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Annual tradition sees armloads of puppies brought to visit seniors
Carrying armfuls of puppies, staff members Nicole Wallace, Lisa Potter and Christal Peck stroll the halls of the Tideview Terrace long-term seniors care facility in Digby to visit excited residents.
Peck, a continuing care assistant at the facility, raises golden retrievers at her home in Annapolis County. She has been bringing puppies in to visit the seniors for the past 12 years of the 15 she’s worked at the facility.
Wallace is an LPN at Tideview and Potter is the recreation programmer. As the trio strolls the halls they know great things are going to be happening.
These puppy visits began after Peck first started sharing pictures of her puppies with the residents and saw their excitement.
“They showed such joy in the pictures,” she says. “I started taking the puppies in to show them. It’s well worth it.”
The latest puppy visits took place on Feb.12.
Tideview Terrace Therapeutic Recreation Manager Katie Booth says with every puppy litter that Peck has, she makes sure the residents follow their whole journey.
“It’s so great that at the end they get to come and meet the residents,” she says. “It’s probably the best day of the year.”
Potter, meanwhile, laughs as she recalls some of the conversations she’s had with the residents when the furry visitors have arrived.
“One lady who lives in a room at the end of the hallway absolutely loves all animals. We asked her to come out of her room and she stepped out and at the end of the hallway. Six puppies started running towards her.”
“Oh my God, look at the little dogs,” the senior shouted.
“She’s only tiny, but she got right down on the floor, so I got down with her,” laughs Potter. “She was just ecstatic as the puppies jumped all over her. She was just loving it.”
“Who do all these puppies belong to?” asked the senior
“They belong to one person,” said Potter.
“Well, I think she should give some to us!” said the senior.
Potter says what she finds so fascinating – as they go from room to room – is the expressions on residents’ faces when they see the puppies.
“Total astonishment and glee. Just like a little kid at Christmas receiving the absolute most favorite thing in the world," she says.
“Many of them said they’d like to have one sleep every night in their bed with them,” she says.
“Well they pee…,” she’ll warn the seniors.
They've told her they don’t care.
“’Let’s hide some,’ they’d reply,” says Potter.
The visits are not only fun, they're also emotional.
“I can’t tell you how many times that those of us who were helping were so close to tears. It was that emotional, seeing their reactions,” she says.
One of the walls at Tideview Terrace is covered with 8x10 photos of the residents holding puppies. It stops people in their tracks when they see them.
“Our staff care so much about our residents. They treat them as they would their family,” says Booth. “So for someone like Christal, these visits are just part of who she is.”