EUGENE, Ore. — Puppy love is spreading throughout the halls of a memory care facility in Eugene.
The activity director at Southtowne Living Center started a new pet therapy program that she says is getting results. The folks who live at this facility are suffering from either alzheimer’s or dementia.
“Our residents, they struggle with memory loss also cognitive ability, but we don’t focus on that so much here. We just really look for moments of joy and find reasons to laugh and be happy,” said Sarah Lenn, Activity Director for Southtowne Living Center.
That happiness is what inspired Sarah Lenn to start a pet therapy program for the center’s 55 residents.
“It’s wonderful. Their world is very small. We don’t have a lot of visitors outside of family members, so anyone I can get to come into the building and have a relationship with them is a wonderful thing,” Lenn said. “The happy emotion that they get from the pet therapy that stays with them throughout the rest of the day. They don’t always remember that the dogs were there earlier, but the happy emotion is still there.”
Lenn started the program with Lane County Animal Services (LCAS) back in March. When LCAS fell on hard times, Greenhill Humane Society volunteers took over. They bring in two shelter dogs every Friday.
“I wasn’t sure how it would go, but the dogs and the residents just instantly bonded. There just is a special love between the two,” Lenn said.
For the dogs this visit gets them out of the shelter and gives them lots of love and for the residents it’s a time of joy. For a disease that robs its victims of so much, it can’t take away the love of man’s best friend.