Sign In

Tonka the therapy dog

April 6, 2020

 

A therapy dog named Tonka had to put a twist on his visits to a local nursing home due to the coronavirus, but the mission is still the same.

“We’re so excited to just be able to make them smile today,” Tonka’s owner, Courtney Leigh, told NBC affiliate KXAN.

The lovable Great Dane was recognized as the “Hero of the Day” on TODAY Thursday for brightening spirits of elderly residents under quarantine at Cedar Pointe Health and Wellness Suites in Cedar Park, Texas.

Cedar Pointe has discontinued all visits for precautionary purposes because of the spread of the coronavirus, which top health officials have said presents a higher risk of complications to people over 60.

As for Tonka, leading health officials have said that there is no present evidence that dogs can get coronavirus.

The quarantine didn’t stop Leigh and Tonka from spreading cheer, as she recently took him up to many residents’ windows so they could wave and say hello.

“We really missed our visits, and I thought, ‘What can I do personally on my own to try and continue some of the feel-good this wonderful dog gives to everyone?”’ Leigh said. “Certainly it’s a safe space with the window as a barrier, just walking around the outside.”

Some residents even made homemade signs telling Tonka they missed him. Leigh also carried a sign that read “We miss you,” letting the residents know someone was thinking about them during a difficult time.

There have been several sweet moments outside nursing homes across the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

A woman was able to show her beloved grandfather her new engagement ring through a window at his nursing home in North Carolina, while a man separated from his wife of 67 years celebrated their anniversary with a sweet sign outside her nursing home in Connecticut.

“It can be so isolating, especially for our older Americans, and it’s not safe for kids or grandkids to be around, but we can still say, ‘We love you and we’re thinking about you and we see you,”’ Savannah Guthrie said on TODAY Thursday.

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more