Therapy dog parades entertain Rutland seniors

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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) The coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on nursing homes and elder care facilities across the country. To brighten the spirits of residents, two Rutland facilities recently hosted therapy dog parades.

"They're a great relief from the tensions and everything -- to see the dogs -- we enjoy them very much," said Dorothy Delliveneri, a resident at Mountain View Center.

Caring Canines of Southwestern Vermont Association used to visit the Rutland area nursing homes once, or twice a month, but since the spread of the coronavirus, the dogs have not been allowed inside to visit with residents. So they did the next best thing -- a parade of pooches.

"This has been a long time. It''s been weeks, and they wonder why they're not going. Because we all become family with the residents we visit," said the association's Susan Traverse.

"Oh, it's very special because we get to see our old friends," Delliveneri said.

Dogs like Beau frequent the two Rutland senior facilities and the parade was an opportunity for residents to see old friends.

"I think it's wonderful when they do something like this," said Margaret O'Donnell, a resident at Rutland Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.

So does something as simple as a parade of dogs brighten spirits and momentarily take some fear of COVID-19 away?

"Yeah. I think it helps. It's a happy time, it's happy to see the dogs," said Suzanne Whitcomb with the Mountain View Center.

"It certainly does, and we're all looking forward to the day when it will be different," Delliveneri said.