NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- Pet Therapy volunteers are brightening the days of New Canaan's Waveny LifeCare Network patients.
Volunteers bring their pets to Waveny each week and share time with patients and residents. Waveny LifeCare Network is located at 3 Farm Road in New Canaan.
"Animal-assisted activities are widely recognized to have therapeutic effects like reducing stress and calming anxiety," Waveny representatives said. "Visits help to improve mood, reduce loneliness, and encourage residents to become more physically and emotionally relaxed."
The volunteers are also seeing benefits.
"It’s always very rewarding to see a person smile or talk about their pets when Meca and I visit," said volunteer Michelle Dore. “We are a team. The residents pet and cuddle Meca while I talk to them and ask them about their day.”
Even though the pets are not required to be certified as pet therapy dogs, each dog visiting Waveny for pet therapy must be friendly, non-aggressive, and appropriately trained, representatives said.
“In order to be part of the program, all the dogs must be clean, well-groomed, healthy and up-to date on immunizations,” said Debbie Perron, Director of Volunteers at Waveny.
Marisa Perkins said when she adopted Lola, she saw her as a therapy dog immediately.
“She looks at you as if she knows everything you are thinking and every emotion you are feeling," Perkins said.
Diane Muldowney adopted 3-year-old labrador Bingo from the “Puppies behind Bars” program. Bingo was trained to “sense” and help people cope with loss and depression, representatives said.
“Bingo knows when a person is feeling depressed or sad and will try to comfort them,” said Diane. “He will lay his head down for them to pet and to run their fingers through his fur.”
To learn more about how your pet can brighten someone’s day at Waveny, residents are asked to contact Debbie Perron, Director of Volunteers, at 203.594.5334 or DPerron@waveny.org.