Kenny the Caregiver: How One Friendly Dog Changes Lives

In a senior living community, it can be tough for residents to socialize, but one furry face is always easy to talk to.

By | Posted: June 11, 2014, 10 a.m. PST

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Kenny III has made it a lot easier for residents of the Mount San Antonio Gardens in Claremont to break out of their shell. The Labrador-Golden Retriever mix, works alongside his partner, Rich, an Inter-faith Chaplain to encourage senior citizens to communicate.

Kenny the dog. Photo courtesy Canine Companions for Independence

 

"We spend a good part of each day in the skilled nursing areas where Kenny brings a sense of peace and calm to people struggling with the frustrations and limitations of dementia and Alzheimer’s,” Rich says.  "Perhaps most profoundly, Kenny has endeared himself to some of the residents whose disabilities have prevented them from socializing as they once did.  Kenny is seen as a new friend who demands little and offers much. When Kenny places his big head on the lap of a wheelchair-bound body, a smile is almost certain to emerge!”

Kenny is not only a benefit to the people of Mount San Antonio Gardens, but to Rich as well. "Residents whom I’ve never formally met will now stop me in order to pet the dog. One thing quickly leads to another and soon a whole new level of conversation is reached. Because of Kenny’s presence, people are more willing to pause and ponder upon memories of the past and concerns for the future. He has expanded my work in a myriad of wonderful ways!”

Rich and Kenny. Photo courtesy Canine Companions for Independence

Rich and Kenny went through a program of team training at Canine Companions for Independence in Oceanside, Calif. Kenny, along with other dogs are trained for two years prior before being matched up with a human who has completed the team training course.

"Kenny is a great worker but then again he has a great job!” Rich says. "He greets everyone he meets with a wag and a kiss, inviting his friends to spend a little time petting his beautiful golden fur.”

Kenny continues to thrive in a situation built for a companion. Many of these patients are in hospice care or nearing the end of their lives, but Kenny’s company usually puts a smile on people’s faces.

Learn more about Canine Companions for Independence at www.cci.org

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