Bringing the Human Habitat to all homes

July 08, 2014
Virgil Thomas, ChangingAging.org

Service Dog

Meg Mairn is the owner and Director of the Eden Registry’s first home care member, Griswold Home Care in Pinellas County Florida.

Griswold Home Care Pinellas has been working on creating approaches to bring the Eden principals to life in the home care setting.  The newest addition to the care partner team is Friendly, a three and a half year old greyhound. Friendly spent the first part of his life racing other dogs on the track before experiencing his “second wind” in retirement as a therapy dog.

Once he left the track he was sent to Hardee County Correctional Facility where he lived for six weeks and was trained by the inmates in a rehabilitation and training program.  The inmates also benefited from his time with them and kept a diary of his progress and personality. It was the Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions that identified him as the dog with the best temperament to work in therapy.

They could see his even demeanor in the midst of the sometimes chaotic intake process at the prison and responded to our adoption application that they found our best fit. The final decision was made when he met his soon-to-be siblings Elyce, 7 and Sam, 3 and the whole family bonded. When Meg, the owner of GHC, went to his graduation ceremony it was time to train her!

As a racing dog, Friendly (who ran under “Friendly’s Bar”) never knew the love and companionship of a family. He was cared for by handlers and owners who while never mistreating him, didn’t provide close caring companionship. We’ve learned firsthand the difference love can make in life as we see his personality emerge and grow as part of our care partner family.

Now he spends most of his days laying around the office and greeting care partners, clients and visitors of all kinds. He also loves to visit Griswold Home Care elders in their homes. Many have had to give up owning pets as their ability to care for them has declined or as they have moved to community living residences which do not allow animals. Friendly also visits hospitals and nursing homes as a therapy dog providing love and affection to elders of all backgrounds.

Friendly is a large dog weighing in at 80 pounds and standing almost 3 feet tall.  Nose to tail he is 5 feet 4 inches! While some were concerned his size would be a deficit it turned out to be a great trait. People in wheelchairs or beds do not need to bend over to rub his soft ears or scratch under his chin! We are proud to welcome Friendly as an Eden Ambassador to our community!

2 Comments. Leave new

How does one begin to plan for bringing therapy dogs into a person’s home? Thinking about considering this as a service project with youth activities under a national 501c3 program. Thinking I might start with one dog, one shut-in and observe the benefits. Concerned about liability and training program for dog. Thoughts? Avenues to research on this?

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Kathy,

I adopted Friendly from a greyhound rescue who had already arranged for his training through their rehabilitation program in a local prison. They were able to assist in determining that he had the calm demeanor necessary to visit with lots of strangers and the commotion of hospitals and nursing homes. There may be similar programs in your area, or my rescue group may be able to arrange for you to adopt one of their dogs. I contacted my insurance broker regarding additional insurance for the liability and he felt it was unnecessary. You would of course want to seek your own advice. If I can help in any way please feel free to contact me- meg.mairn@griswoldhomecare.com

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