RileyIt’s a proven fact that dogs and pets can help improve our health and relieve stress so what could be a better match than a dog and a retirement community?

One of man’s best friends has recently found a new home at The Community at Parkvue in Perkins Township.

A 7-year-old Australian shepherd named Riley has become a resident at the Parkvue Health Care Center. The medium-sized male dog has quickly made himself a favorite fixture at the 100-bed facility, which sits adjacent to Parkvue Place, a retirement community that’s part of the campus of The Community at Parkvue.

Riley came to the health care center about three weeks ago when two of the activities assistants picked him up from the Erie County Humane Society. After the possibility of getting a shih-tzu fell through, Riley seemed like a good fit. He had been raised by an elderly woman who couldn’t take care of him any more. One of the Erie County Humane Society workers contacted Parkvue employee, Bridget Buderer, about Riley.

”As soon as we met him, we knew he would be perfect,” said Tiffany Smith, who along with Buderer went to get Riley. He was an instant hit with the residents.

”The way he can change their attitudes is so neat, especially if they’re having a bad day,” she said. ”Their faces just light up.”

Many residents have pets before coming to Parkvue, so it makes sense to have animals at the facility, said Admissions/Marketing coordinator Mona Flores. While the facility has fish tanks, an aviary and even several cats, Riley is the first resident dog to call Parkvue home.

”This gives us a chance to build a quality of life for the residents,” Flores said. ”It’s where they live. Riley technically belongs to everybody.”

Families of residents do bring in their dogs for visits, but Riley is there every day. He goes home with one of the staff members each night, but other than that he has free reign of the place. He knows to stay out of the dining halls, and the residents don’t feed him table scraps.

Riley endeared himself to the residents right away.

”I thought it was very good (that we got him), he makes me very happy,” said 90-year-old Ruth McGinness, who said she’s had her own dogs ever since she was a child. She still has a Dachshund who lives with her daughter. ”We’re just glad Riley’s here.”

He’s very gentle with the residents, and had obviously been trained by his previous owner, Buderer said. At first, the staff was a little nervous about bringing Riley in, wondering if having a dog in the facility would work.

”A lot of people said, if this dog doesn’t work, no dog will,” Buderer said.

Riley soaks up the attention, even seeking it out if there’s a lull in someone loving on him. Flores said he will go from wheelchair to wheelchair, looking for a lap in which to place his head so he can be petted.

”He’s a very mild-mannered, loving dog,” Flores said. ”It’s very therapeutic for the residents.”

He’ll even go on outings with the residents, recently accompanying a group to Kelleys Island and another on an excursion to downtown Sandusky. They just can’t seem to get enough of him, even the cat-lovers in the group.

”He’s a beautiful dog, he just loves everybody,” said 64-year-old resident Ruth Stevens, who’s had pets all of her life, but mostly cats. ”They just love him, and he loves everybody. He’s some dog.”

Riley has made such an impression that the health care center is sponsoring a Housewarming & Adopt-A-Thon in his honor on Aug. 19. People are invited to bring their dogs and show them off, and to meet Riley. Dogs will be available for adoption through the Humane Society as well.

The Northcoast Greyhound Society, the Norwalk K-9 Unit, Pampered Pooch Pastries and a PETCO certified trainer will be on site from 1 to 3 p.m.

”For the residents, this is about the touch, the sensory, the warmth,” Flores said. ”Riley is just perfect. This is not for residents to just live out their last days, but to provide a quality of life for them. The activities department is a big part of that, and this is a big deal.” (The Morning Journal)

What a great match for the pup and the residents! More retirement homes and other places like that should think about a canine addition to their residence!

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