Madisonville nursing home brings in puppy for pet therapy program

Madisonville nursing home brings in puppy for pet therapy program
Published: Nov. 13, 2023 at 7:59 PM EST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - A nursing home in Madisonville is starting a pet therapy program as a way to address its residents emotional needs.

Ridgewood Terrace Health & Rehabilitation has a new employee, and he’s already getting rave reviews from staff and residents alike.

“He is just amazing,” said Ridgewood Terrace administrator, Jessica Lopez. “He is a ball of energy.”

“He likes attention,” said two-year resident, Steve Morgan.

“He just makes everybody happy,” said Ridgewood Terrace Activity Director Laurie Crook.

“Playful, and is a puppy who loves to chew on your fingers,” said three-month resident, Joyce Johnston.

The new employee, Ridge, is a dog. Ridgewood Terrace staff say the twelve-week-old Labrador has already made an impact in the month he’s been there.

“It’s been amazing,” said Crook. “Everybody’s happy, they love seeing him come down the hallway. The staff is happy to see him, a lot less stress.”

They say a local Labrador breeder used to visit Ridgewood Terrace with his dogs every week for about a year. After seeing the positive impact of the dogs on the residents, they thought they’d try a permanent arrangement, and the breeder gave Ridge to the nursing home.

The staff say they work hard to try and keep their residents from feeling sad or lonely, and Ridge has been an effective solution.

“We are doing our best to meet all the needs that we have for our residents, and that includes Mr. Ridge,” said Lopez.

Ridge is getting ready to attend some basic training, and will then go for a test to become a therapy dog.

Some of the residents say having him there with them each day shows just how much the staff cares for them.

“Happiness comes in many forms, and when you have a dog, and you have such good people here, they take good care of you, it’s wonderful,” said Johnston.

They say it’s left them more than happy with where they live, as well as with the people, and dogs, who care for them.

“This nursing home here is probably one of the best nursing homes in the state,” said Morgan. “I think it is, personally.”

Ridge may still be a new employee, but the staff says, based on the reviews they’ve been getting from the residents so far, they hope he stays a long, long time.