Apparently, yesterday was National Rescue Dog Day and my canine co-workers neglected to tell me. Luckily, First Lady of Georgia Marty Kemp had this reminder:
University of Georgia graduate student Kim Wolf is working to bring virtual pet visits to shut-ins and front-line healthcare workers, according to the Athens Banner Herald.
During her more than 15 years working with older adults and caregivers, Wolf had seen how residents lit up when she brought therapy dogs. So she decided to pilot the project with her grandmother’s facility, where residents were used to seeing in-house therapy pets weekly.
Wolf recruited friends from the Animal Farm Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit dog rescue that trains shelter dogs to be free service dogs for people in need. With them came dogs, cats, horses, goats and cows.
“You could see the excitement in the eyes of our residents,” said Roya Najafali-Brooks, the activities director at Genesis Multi-Medical, where Wolf’s grandmother lives. “Pets seem to bring them much joy when in the building, so with the current situation, it is a great opportunity for them to be able to still have this pet interaction.”
Pairing with Animal Farm Foundation, Wolf established Pets Together, with the goal of providing visits on a bigger scale. Using video chat services, Pets Together has held more than 100 virtual visits since its launch in March. Another 100 appointments are already scheduled for the next month. Currently, Pets Together offers appointments only to people living in group settings or working on the front lines of the pandemic, but Wolf said she anticipates expanding in the future to provide visits to people who are living in their own homes but unable to get out much due to health reasons.
“There’s some really powerful research that shows that experiencing chronic social isolation and loneliness is just as bad for premature mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes,” Wolf said. “As a public health student, I’m always trying to think about new and innovative ways that we can reduce social isolation and loneliness, especially in older adults where consequences are more dire. This was a way to try and do that and buffer the effects of isolation.”
Deryn is a young female Labrador Retriever and Beagle mix who is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.
Welcome Deryn! Deryn is an 11-month-old yellow beauty currently weighing in at just 33 pounds. Because she’s so young, she’ll likely get bigger yet – likely to around 40 pounds (give or take). She needs a home with another dog because, as you’ll see, she does best when she’s got a canine friend around!
Deryn is crate-trained and housebroken! Since Deryn has moved in with another dog, she has learned those skills very quickly, and she’s been learning new tricks on top of that! Deryn can now respond to “sit,” “down,” “off,” and she is working on learning to “roll over.” Deryn will go into her crate for food, but she’d much rather hang out in the open with her human and dog pals! Who can blame her?
Deryn, or “Little Bit” as foster mom calls her because she’s half the size of her favorite playmate, lives with other dogs in her foster home and is doing great with them! She was a tad shy with larger male dogs when she first met them, but once the initial bashfulness wore off, she was as good as gold and happy to play! Deryn is a much happier dog now that she has a foster sibling, so she needs a family who has another dog so she won’t feel so lonely when her humans aren’t home.
Sprout is a male Chihuahua and Shih-Tzu mix who is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.
Welcome Sprout! This 4-year-old boy weighs in at just 12 pounds. Sprout is already housebroken and crate trained! He sleeps through the night and keeps his crate clean when he’s at home alone. When he has to go outside, he signals by whining at the door or giving a little nudge with his paw to make sure you know it’s time to go outside. He will walk right in his crate with a little bait, and he stays quiet all night long, but if you sleep in too long, he’ll let you know it’s time to get out of bed and get your day started.
With other dogs, Sprout is playful, kissy, cuddly, and happy. He loves to cuddle with his foster siblings, and he will even share toys with them. He’ll even go for toys that are nearly his size!
Sophie is a young female Australian Shepher and Doberman Pinscher mix who is available for adoption from Athens Canine Rescue in Athens, GA.
Welcome Sophie! This Doberman mix beauty is around 2-years-old and had four puppies in February. Once she loses the baby weight, Sophie should weigh around 50 pounds. All of her babies have been adopted, so she’s an empty-nester who is ready to thrive in her new kid-free life!
Sophie is working on her housetraining. She knows when to go outside and hasn’t had any recent accidents, but she doesn’t spend much time loose in the house. Sophie is crate trained and will go in her crate with just a point — no treat needed! She has learned to “sit,” and she will probably get a few more tricks up her sleeve with more training.
Sophie lives with dogs in her foster home, and they are all doing well together. Sophie is a bit shy at first but will wrestle and bounce around with her foster siblings. She is wonderful at adjusting her play style based on the situation — she’s gentle with smaller dogs but can play rough and hold her own with the big boys.