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Residents touched by puppy love

By Staff
CANINE SUNSHINE Bob Anderson, a member of St Paul's Episcopal Church, and his dog, Rossi, entertain Queen City Nursing Home residents Dean Harper, Lettie Moore, Mollie Jones and Florence Wright, while Paula Kay Aust enjoys petting Anderson's other dog, Wicket. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
May 19, 2003
Bob Anderson, a member of St Paul's Episcopal Church, has developed a lay ministry that has gone to the dogs.
He calls it "Puppy Love," a pet therapy program that takes dogs into nursing homes to visit the residents.
He said 22 dogs are involved. The largest is a boxer, the smallest a Chihuahua. The owners, many of them members of St. Paul's, bring their dogs to Queen City Nursing Center and Meridian Community Living Center to visit the residents.
Suzie Pool is a member of St. Paul's who brought her yellow lab mix, Teela, on one of the weekend visits to the nursing homes. Pool said her dog shook hands with the elderly residents.
Linda Coulliette, activity coordinator of Queen City, said the Puppy Love visits brighten the residents' day.
Gary Thomas, activity director of Meridian Community Living Center, also said residents love to see the dogs visit and look forward to them returning.
Edward O'Conner, curate of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, said he has been to the nursing homes when the dogs have visited. He said he has seen the positive effects on residents caused by the power of touch.
However, he said he would help another pet therapy group get started.
While Bob Anderson oversees the Puppy Love visits, his wife, Jean, lets their two Pomeranians, Rossi and Wicket, get in on the act.
When the dogs are taken to the nursing homes, they are allowed to pick the people they want to visit first. Jean said they eventually work their way around to everyone who wants to see them.
The Andersons are now researching how to have the dogs certified as therapy dogs.
He said he has had nothing but positive reaction from the dogs, too.