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Furry friends bring back memories to Pa. seniors

July 25, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - When Nannie Etter saw a German shepherd on Saturday, it brought back memories of Kelly, the German shepherd she had as a little girl.

"I loved her so much. She passed away," said Etter, who said she's "90 something, I can't remember."

She lives at WovenHearts Alternative Living Services on Norland Avenue in Chambersburg.

WovenHearts was the scene Saturday of a pet show, featuring obedience class demonstrations by an area dog training school, a pet parade and a class of puppies who one day will become seeing-eye dogs.

Pets brought in by area residents included dogs, cats, a gerbil, a bird and two rabbits, most of which the residents were able to pet.

Bringing animals to assisted living homes and nursing homes is called pet therapy, said Amy Nardis, resident director of WovenHearts.

"It's a non-threatening interaction between people and animals. The stroking brings back memories," Nardis said. "And the pets can't see the wheelchairs or any kind of disabilities."

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The pet show included a discount rabies clinic given by a veterinarian from the Shippensburg, Pa., Animal Hospital. Proceeds were donated to Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter. Shelter officials brought photos of dogs and cats ready for adoption.

Lasky, WovenHearts' mascot and resident mutt, came from such a shelter, Nardis said.

Described by Nardis as "a big, old gentle dog," Lasky roams the facility at will and has become a great friend to many of its residents. "They keep dog biscuits in their rooms to give him when he comes by on his rounds," she said.

"One resident won't eat until we bring Lasky into her room," Nardis said.

Lasky was nowhere to be seen during the pet show. Nardis said he was overwhelmed by all the dogs that came in Saturday.

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