Recently our Ringwood Residents were visited by some super special, and super adorable, guests: Sampson the comfort dog and Timber the Service Dog!
Samson is a Golden Retriever and is one of the many comfort dogs trained by the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry . Being a comfort dog means that Samson receives special training to remain calm around all types of people so he can provide emotional comfort. While Samson’s organization specializes in Golden Retrievers, it should be noted that all breeds of dogs, including mixed breeds, can become comfort dogs. More important than the breed is finding a dog with a loving, patient, and gentle temperament, and then providing the necessary training.
Samson knows that when his vest is on, he is on duty to provide snuggles, smiles, and a calming presence. Residents enjoyed petting him and talking about the dogs they had owned in the past. Samson, on the other hand, was quite intrigued by the tennis balls on one of our Resident’s walkers. Samson’s volunteer handlers told us that their favorite part of being with Samson was getting to see the various expressions of joy that Samson got to bring to others.
After Samson left, Residents sat down to watch the animated adventure, Balto, released in 1995. Directed by Simon Wells, the tale of Balto fit in well with the day’s events of heroic furry friends. The film is loosely based on the 1925 Diphtheria epidemic during which teams of sled dogs had to deliver life saving medicine to Nome, Alaska. In the film, outcast dog Balto must race against time, the harsh wilderness, and the ostracization he faces from his fellow teammates to save the town he loves so dearly. Personally, I have always loved this film and I thought it was particularly poignant with its message of a whole town, both human and dogs, working together to overcome the odds to protect their loved ones.
On another pleasant afternoon, Timber, a Husky, joined his handler, a veteran of the U.S. Military, to visit our Residents. Timber is a service dog, meaning he is trained to do specific tasks to help his owner throughout everyday life. Service dogs undergo months of intensive training to prepare for their essential roles. With this training, service dogs are legally allowed to accompany their owner into any business.
But even dogs with important jobs still like being pampered and petted, so Timber was happy to be cuddled by our Residents while his owner answered questions about his time in the Service. Founder Larry Garifo remarked, “It was so nice to see how affectionate the Residents got to be with him and to hear [the Veteran’s] stories.” We’d like to thank this individual for his service to our country and his willingness to share his experiences with our Residents.
Later on, Timber took a tour around the home and Residents were impressed by his attentiveness to his owner’s commands. For example, he sat down and waited patiently at every doorway.
We are so grateful that Samson, Timber, and their respective owners and volunteers stopped by to visit us. There is nothing quite like the bonds that form between our trusted animal companions and ourselves.