Harley, a robot therapy dog, has been a blessing for people in long-term care who are missing their pets. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Harley, a robot therapy dog, has been a blessing for people in long-term care who are missing their pets. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Therapy dogs offer long-term companionship

The toy pets are used in long-term care

A robot therapy dog has brought comfort to a new resident at Fischer Place.

Kathy Munroe, manager of acute care at 100 Mile District General Hospital, said the voice-activated golden pup was one of two companion pets that arrived at the hospital Friday, courtesy of the South Cariboo Health Foundation.

He arrived in the nick of time: an elderly lady was moving from the hospital into long-term care and was worried she would be lonely.

“When she was told she was moving upstairs, she became quite upset and said she was scared because she was going to be alone and didn’t know anyone up there,” Munroe said. “We gave her the therapy dog and immediately tears welled up in her eyes. She started petting him and said ‘I love him.’ It changed everything.”

The therapy dogs are intended to offer comfort to people who are transitioning to long-term care, especially those who may have left pets behind. The medically approved dogs respond to touch and voice activation, by barking, wagging their tails, closing their eyes, panting and even turning their heads.

Chris Nickless, chair of the South Cariboo Health Foundation, said sometimes the littlest things can mean the most to people and help in their recovery. The foundation provided two therapy dogs – they cost around $100 each – to the long-term care department last week.

Munroe said the therapy dogs have already proven to be a big help for people.

”For her to be able to take that, her face just lit up,” she said of the new long-term care resident. “She doesn’t feel so lonely anymore. It really did make her day.”



kelly.sinoski@100milefreepress.net

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Chris Nickless, chair of the South Cariboo Health Foundation, was excited to meet Harley, a robot therapy dog, who been a blessing for people in long-term care. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Chris Nickless, chair of the South Cariboo Health Foundation, was excited to meet Harley, a robot therapy dog, who been a blessing for people in long-term care. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Chris Nickless, chair of the South Cariboo Health Foundation and Kathy Munro, manager of acute care at 100 Mile District General Hospital, show off one of two therapy dogs used for long-term care. (Kelly Sinoski photo- 100 Mile Free Press).

Chris Nickless, chair of the South Cariboo Health Foundation and Kathy Munro, manager of acute care at 100 Mile District General Hospital, show off one of two therapy dogs used for long-term care. (Kelly Sinoski photo- 100 Mile Free Press).