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Oliver The Therapy Dog

May 18, 2020

Residents at Stone Brook Assisted Living and Memory Care in Denison are accustomed to seeing Monarch Hospice’s therapy dog Oliver almost every week, but COVID-19 restrictions on visitation have changed that.

“One of our residents Glenn, every day has asked, ‘When’s Oliver coming? When’s Oliver coming? Can he get in my room? Can he get in my bed?'” said Kim Ortiz, Stone Brook’s activities director.

Oliver has done virtual visits with the residents before, but they haven’t seen him face-to-face in months.

“They can’t pet Oliver like they normally do… or sneak him crackers… but I think just seeing him gave them a little bit of hope and understanding that we’re doing this just to keep them safe,” said Monarch Hospice community liaison Brandy Barnard said.

Visitation restrictions are still in place, so families haven’t been able to come and visit their loved ones. That’s why these window visits are providing the comfort these residents need.

“It’s still therapy, even though they’re not getting to pet Oliver,” Ortiz said. “They’re still getting to see him, and — as you’ve seen — they know his name and they recognize him, and they all need that familiarity right now, especially with what’s going on.”

Ortiz added that having these activities to look forward to can help make each day special.

“They just love him so much, and it just brings such a joy… and the smiles, it just makes my heart melt,” she said. “We even had someone shedding some tears… they just love him.”

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