Presentation attendees (left to right) Martha Peterson and Colleen Dunn with Sophie and Roy Hayes and June Vogtsberger with Brodie.
PET THERAPY PRESENTATION KICKS OFF SPRING SERIES OF OPTIMAL AGING INSTITUTE
The companionship of animals can play an important role in “optimal aging,” as the first session in BGSU’s Optimal Aging Institute spring program series demonstrated. The Feb. 23 gathering was part research presentation, part demonstration and all pleasure for attendees from the University, community and Brookdale Senior Living in Bowling Green.
|Barbara Carey of Brookdate with Snowy, Dr. Cynthia Spitler’s therapy cat.
Providing firsthand proof of the power of pets as “social lubricants” were Snowy the cat, belonging to Dr. Cynthia Spitler, gerontology; Sophie and Brodie, the sister and brother Shetland sheep dogs of Dr. Christopher Dunn, criminal justice, and retiree Susan Dunn, formerly of University Advancement; Frederick the Shih Tzu, a therapy dog who works with Marie Rogers of Bowling Green, and Reba the Labrador retriever, a fully trained assistance dog who aids community member Sandy Sundmeier, who is in a wheelchair.
The animals received a warm welcome and treats from the audience, sparking conversation and praise. Snowy, a remarkably outgoing former shelter cat who now serves as a therapy pet, walked about and greeted everyone, including the dogs; Brookdale residents Roy Hayes and Colleen Dunn held the Shelties on their laps, and everyone admired all the animal visitors. Rogers told about her work with Bowling Green resident Bryce Christensen, brain damaged as the result of a near-drowning as a child. Now 23, he has had pet therapy with Rogers since he was 13.