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Homewood's hound

Maizy moves in, to residents' delight

Maizy moves in, to residents' delight

July 13, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Maizy had a great time at her recent Welcome Aboard party at Homewood at Williamsport. They served all her favorites - cake, chips, and dog biscuits.

Maizy, a 3-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, now calls the retirement village home. Homewood adopted the dog from the Humane Society of Washington County.

"The residents on the second floor of the nursing home decided they wanted a dog," said Ruth Freshman, a registered nurse and unit coordinator.

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Homewood already was home to two cats, Sydney and Vernetta, who roam the second floor at will. Freshman said the cats were slowly warming up to the new canine resident, checking her out from a distance.

The cats and the dog are free to wander in and out of residents' rooms. Some residents enjoy the animal contact and invite the pets in while others can close their doors or squirt the animals with water if they don't want them in their rooms, Freshman said.

"We find most residents want the visits," Freshman said.

The animal activity is part of The Eden Alternative, a concept designed to improve the quality of life for residents living in a long-term care setting by creating a homey atmosphere. That includes contact with children, pets, and plants, Freshman said.

"We also have seven cages of zebra finches that the residents care for and enjoy tremendously," Freshman said.

A care plan is in place for each of the animals, Freshman said. For instance, the staff takes turns walking Maizy outside on a leash while her outdoor kennel/run is being completed.

The animals eat in a common area and beds are available for them. For the most part, however, the cats and the dog are allowed to sleep wherever they want. One of the cats regularly spends the night on a particular resident's bed.

Maizy was given up for adoption by a family who had to move out of the area and couldn't take her, Freshman said. She initially was placed in foster care with a couple who live in a Homewood cottage.

"Maizy is ideal - she is a bigger dog, very social, eager to please and is used to people," Freshman said. "She's not a barker, nor is she easily startled. And she is at a good height for wheelchair residents."

For Edna Nichols, 93, having Maizy around brings back good memories of her years at home with dogs.

"It's nice having a dog around again," Nichols said as she gave Maizy a treat.

June Artz, now a resident but formerly a supervisor at Homewood, said there were no pets around in her day. But she said she's glad they are around now.

"Here Maizy, here's a doggie biscuit for you," said Beulah Howarth as she met Maizy for the first time.

Freshman said Maizy's job is to help eliminate the loneliness, helplessness and boredom that can plague residents of retirement facilities.

On hand for the recent party welcoming Maizy to Homewood were Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, and two staff members, Barbie Ginck, adoption counselor, and Julie Draper, promotion director.

"We've also placed a dog at Star Community and one at Williamsport Retirement Village, but that one has since passed away," Draper said.

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