We’re pleased to introduce a very special, very furry guest blogger, Willie the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel!
Hi, I’m Willie, and since my owners, Laurel and Connie W., view me as a smart dog, they have decided to let me tell my own story. My owner, Laurel (who I sometimes call grandma) has been a resident at Cumberland Pointe since December. Since I have such a strong attachment to her, I was totally depressed at the prospect of her being away from me while living in a senior care community. But my depression suddenly changed to joy when I was looking in the blue Resident Move-in Guide and there on page 14 were the magic words, “pets are welcome to visit.”
But let me tell you how I got here. Seven years ago when Laurel was celebrating her 80th birthday, the children and grandchildren decided to get her a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (that’s me!) for her present. A granddaughter in Florida already had one that everyone loved and she was able to find a breeder that had several to choose from. So, while watching a video on her computer screen in Lafayette, Indiana, Laurel picked me out of 2 or 3 others. It must have been my cute eyes. So, they met me halfway at a motel in Alabama and brought me to their home in Lafayette, Indiana.
When Laurel moved into Cumberland Pointe, Connie (who I call grandpa) started taking me every other day to visit her. Even though she was confined to a wheelchair and her bed, I could see how happy my visits made her. I was even able to jump up in bed with her and she could stroke me all over!
Those first days of December turned out to be an amazing introduction to Cumberland Pointe with its amazing layout of hallways, departments, nursing stations, dining rooms and lounges. One of my first exciting memories was when four generations of my owners’ family gathered for Christmas and were invited to put on a Christmas music program for the Cumberland residents in the big lounge. I sang in the front row of the Wilcox choir! Another big event where I seemed to be the center of attention was when Cumberland Pointe hosted and organized an open house reception for Laurel and Connie’s 65th wedding anniversary in the lounge. Everyone, including the several out-of-town guests, greeted me by name as I sat in a chair next to Laurel and Connie in the reception line.
It soon became apparent that my breed made me a perfect visitor. As a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with my roots and ancestors from England, I was known to have a sweet, gentle and affectionate nature. And so, since I was so friendly, never aggressive and never even barked, I was free to travel all over the health campus. Not only did I brighten Connie’s days, lots of other residents grew to love me. Connie saw this and started taking me along with him almost every afternoon.
It seemed that soon everybody had heard about me and wanted a chance to pet my smooth, silky coat. On a typical visit, I would see at least eight residents beginning out in the parking circle, then at the front doorway and along the long hallway on the way to Laurel’s room in The Pines area. Most of the residents who reached down to pet me didn’t realize how therapeutic I was. Not only did those few moments together produce the first smile of the day, but science tells us that it lowered heart rates, blood pressure and stress levels. Some of the older residents remembered that former president Ronald Reagan had a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that looked exactly like me. He must have had good taste!
Just last week we passed a room where I overheard a lady say, “Could you please bring Willie in to see my mother?” And what a joy it was to feel her reach down from her wheelchair and pet my head. Not only did it seem to brighten her mood, it provided needed movement for her arthritic fingers and a range of motion exercise for her stiff arms and shoulders. Even some of my tricks and antics have delighted and entertained the residents. One day, in the lounge in front of a row of wheelchairs, I was able to demonstrate how I can catch popcorn thrown to me. I always get it in my mouth, and not a single kernel ever hits the floor! Not only did I get a row of smiles, I even received applause!
Since the leadership at Cumberland Pointe didn’t restrict my activities, I had become their unofficial, unpaid, volunteer therapy dog. They could see that as a dog, I had the ability to calm and soothe agitated individuals while lifting the spirits of those who were sad and lonely, and that I even stimulated a response from some patients who were typically withdrawn and limited in their abilities. I hope that I can continue to bring warmth and joy, not only to my owner, Laurel, but to many more of her neighbors at Cumberland Pointe.
Let me share one last secret. I am addicted to treats, and I am actually paid well for my therapy work. Kathy in the reception office has a large bag of wonderful dog treats in her desk drawer and she gives me 2 or 3 every day as I leave!
Thank you to Connie W. for typing this post on behalf of Willie who, while very smart, struggles with operating a keyboard.
At Trilogy, we love our four-legged friends and we welcome their visits at all of our campuses across the Midwest! Find a campus near you by visiting our locations page.