Dogs of all ages, breeds and sizes are making a “pawsitive” impact on the lives of senior residents at The Terraces of Boise, an active continuing care retirement community. Providing companionship, accountability, socialization and opportunities for physical activity, these pets are treating their owners to multiple dimensions of wellness. Wanting to share the love of their furry companions, some residents even volunteer their pals for pet therapy visits to seniors in assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing. The animals also provide a wonderful way to meet people in the community, as there are daily “Yappy Hours” so the dogs can have play dates with their four-legged neighbors. For Pat Blackstock, Teresa Yata and Caroyln Gilbert, all residents of The Terraces of Boise, their dogs provide more joy and laughter in their retirement than they could have imagined. They are happy to share their stories as they come together this May to celebrate National Dog Month.
“I attend the Yappy Hours every day in the afternoons with my dog Blue, a Pappillon-Dachshund mix I adopted from the Humane Society,” said Yata. “I initiated the daily Yappy Hours as a way to socialize Blue with other dogs, and he plays greeter as his other canine friends arrive. He provides a wonderful way to meet people and helps me exercise. Blue recently befriended a resident who was training a new puppy. Every time the gentleman tried to command his puppy to do something, Blue would comply, and he would receive a treat. Now when we see this resident, Blue still anticipates a treat for his tricks. He is a very social dog in general, and I volunteer him to do pet therapy visits on Mondays at 1:30 p.m. He’s a good size, so he can sit close while people pet him and scratch his ears. Blue happily moves from each resident to the next. It is the most heartwarming thing to witness. Having Blue adds an extra dimension to my life. He’s social, therapeutic, and I love that he’s always excited to see me. I enjoy taking care of him.”
Blackstock also volunteers her dog Maggie for pet therapy visits. Maggie is a nine-year-old West Highland Terrier who is calm in nature, enjoys children and likes to be loved. Outside of the pet therapy visits, Maggie is always pulling Blackstock in the direction of the dog park to socialize with her furry pals.
“I love attending the pet therapy visits with Maggie, as I truly delight in seeing other residents smiling and laughing with my dog,” said Blackstock. “She’s a certified service dog, and she’s gentle with other people. I reward her for all her efforts to keep people happy by taking her on a yearly trip to Sedona. She might be the first Westie I’ve ever owned, but she is certainly the best dog I’ve ever had.”
The Gilbert’s dog, Pepsi, is also well-traveled, having visited several states including Colorado, Washington and Oregon to name a few.
“Pepsi-dawg gets us out of the house and prevents us from getting caught up in our personal pursuits of reading, writing or studying,” said Gilbert. “While we dearly love cats, they do not require the same outdoor time and socialization as dogs. We won’t have grandchildren, so having Pepsi gives us a companion we can dote on. He is the reason we are active, and he helps us get up in a timely manner in the morning and remain punctual. It is nice to be greeted by his playful energy as he prances around anxiously waiting to go outside and chase his beloved green ball. We tried buying a pink ball and a blue ball, but he will only play with the green ones. He’s a quirky little thing, but we love him to pieces. We are so appreciative of The Terraces of Boise for designing a pet-friendly community and think it is amazing that they go above and beyond to make residents and their furry friends feel right at home.”
“Our residents are deeply affected by the camaraderie they have with their pets,” said Jud Severns, executive director of The Terraces of Boise. “It is heartwarming to see residents sharing the love of their pets with one another. This Saturday, our dog-friendly community will come together for a special Yappy Hour which includes a group playdate and dog parade. This is in addition to the regularly scheduled Yappy Hours that our very own Teresa Yata started to help residents and dogs get acquainted with one another.”