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Furry friends visit care centers

Kennel Club dogs bring Christmas cheer to residents

December 17, 2012
By JOE SUTTER, , Messenger News

Some older folks got a four-legged treat Saturday and Sunday afternoon when members of the Fort Dodge Kennel Club brought their dogs to visit Fort Dodge nursing homes.

The club members walked up and down the halls, handing out Christmas cards and inviting residents to pet the dogs.

At Fort Dodge Health and Rehabilitation, two full-sized poodles were a bit of a curiosity to many of the residents. When most people think of that breed, they think miniature poodles, said Becky Hanson.

Article Photos

Chapin Hanson, left, and Becky Hanson lead Fletcher and Albert through the halls of the Fort Dodge Health and Rehabilitation Center Sunday afternoon. Kennel Club members brought their dogs to visit with the residents and handed out Christmas cards.

"A lot of people don't know poodles get this big," Hanson said as her large dog said hello to some of the residents.

The club members visit nursing homes with their dogs several times a year, said Rusty Nelson.

Liz Hawkins said, "We try to hit the holidays - Valentine's Day, Christmas, Halloween. It's good for the dogs and it's good for the patients. They usually click. A lot of them had dogs before."

"Any time animals come in, the residents kind of perk up, wake up, cheer up," said Sherry Landis, licensed practical nurse at Fort Dodge Health and Rehabilitation. "They like animals. That's why we have one."

A big black dog named Lexi lives at the facility full-time, Landis said.

Down the hallway, one resident approached Nelson's boarder collie slowly, asking if the dog would bite.

Nelson assured her that the dog wouldn't. In fact, the dogs are specifically trained not to.

"Most of these dogs are registered with Therapy Dogs International," Hawkins said. This means they have to be accustomed to wheelchairs and know how to stay calm around all kinds of people, even people who would try to shoo the dog away, she said.



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