Dogs, Seniors and Youngsters

Nikki and a Friend.Senior Visiting with Dogs and Young People.

I have had the privilege to visit with the seniors now for many years with my Dogs. I have two therapy dogs, Nikki and Benny. I take them both visiting in separate senior homes. I belong to Therapeutic Paws of Canada. What a wonderful organization it is.

How did I get started into this wonderful work? I was visiting a dear young friend in the palliative care unit in our local hospital. My friend was dying. On this day, she was totally exhausted and sleeping. I was watching her, in turmoil with what was happening when very softly in walked Linda and Tasha, the resident visiting golden retriever. My friend could not benefit from this visit, but boy, I sure did. This dog helped me get a grip on my emotions. Such a beautiful dog she is. Tasha and Linda the owner became my mentors. I knew this is what I wanted to do. Tasha’s owner, Linda, wrote a “Tribute to Tasha”. I have it published on my site, with her permission.

One of our church members has moved to the same home I take Nikki visiting. Because of this, I have had an unexpected pleasure; one of our young people, Cassandra, has volunteered to come with me. She observes Nikki visiting, and she talks with the seniors, holds their hands. She makes them smile, big-time!

When we go into the home, I first let Nikki visit with the residents, and Cassandra also visits with them, the seniors love it. We then end the visiting by seeing our friend, Daniel. What a great way to spend an hour or two.

It is not difficult to train a dog for visiting. All of the ‘Therapy Groups” that I am aware of do not required to have any “outside” training. It is very easy to train your own dog, and if you need help, there is information available. I also have information on my therapy site,

Different organizations have different requirements. But, with most of them your dog needs to be one year of age and pass a three part screening process. Health, skills and aptitude
The health screening is done by your Veterinarian and certifies that your dog is healthy and free from parasites, disease and infections and all shots are current.
The skills test, modeled after the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen
test evaluates whether the animal can be controlled by the handler and follow basic commands.
The aptitude test is designed to simulate conditions you may encounter on a visit. How would your pet react around a wheelchair, walker, cane, noises, and slippery floors such as in a hospital, elevators, crowds of people, and being hugged and petted by more than one person at a time?

Cassandra, my young friend, has written in her own words for us what she feels about this wonderful work. By Cassandra:

I have started to go visiting some of the senior homes in my neighborhood with my friend Ruth and her two dogs, Nikki a Golden Retriever and Benny a Black Lab. Her dogs were trained for Therapeutic Paws of Canada and are certified by them. They are very gentle and loving dogs.

My name is Cassandra and I just turned 14. I am going to be starting high school in the fall and looking forward to it. Visiting the seniors with the dogs is a great way to give something back to the community as well as earning my volunteer hours that I will need to pass high school and it is something that gives me great pleasure in doing. I have a 7-year-old sister who also enjoys visiting the seniors as well. I have always liked animals and have three at home, one dog and two cats.

My first visit to the senior home was very enjoyable. The first few visits will probably just be getting to know the people who live there. Who likes dogs and who doesn’t? We met several seniors who really liked Nikki. As we keep going to this home I’m told that they will remember the dogs more then they remember the people who bring the dogs.

While we were there I met a Daniel, a senior member of our church and a very enjoyable man. He had just moved into the home and was very lonely. I think he really liked the visit because on our next one I was surprised when he remembered me. That gave me such a good feeling to know that our visit was well received.

So I would highly recommend that if you like talking to people and want to be doing something in your spare time to visit the seniors in your neighborhood it will give them something to look forward to and you a great feeling.

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  1. Ruth
    | Reply

    Hart, Hi, Greetings from my Nikki again.

    Just a note to let you know I am very happy. I have met a young lady who shares this wonderful work with me, and she also wanted to write a few words, so here is an intro into her own story,


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