Who is Dori Yoder?
Every day for the past year, Dory Yoder has hired her dog, Luke.
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As director of social services and activities at the Pleasantview Home Retirement Community in Kahlon, residents receive a little pet therapy thanks to a friendly 3-year-old Kawashon, a mix of cavalier-king-charles spaniel-bichon.
“We like the role of bichon because it doesn’t lose,” Yoder said. “These are both good breeds for good relationships with people.”
Julie Gingeric, director of marketing and development at Pleasantview Home, said pet therapy can help people improve emotional and physical health.
“It can be an effective treatment to reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue,” Gingeric said.
The nursing home, owned by the Mennonite Charitable Association of Iowa, has 80 nursing/qualified beds, including a nine-bed unit specifically designed for residents with dementia. The facility also has 68 separate residential units.
Pets are allowed at Pleasantview Home, so relatives of residents can bring pets with them. The agency requests a copy of the vaccination records before visiting the pet.
Although Luke did not attend a formal pet therapy course, he completed a basic course of study where he learned obedience, socialization skills and good manners. His days are busy communicating with residents and staff.
“When he comes here, Luke runs down the hall and stops at the offices where he knows he can be offered a treat,” Yoder said.
Virginia Roth and social services assistant Katielyn Miller are photographed with Luke outside the plesantview retirement home in Calon.
Katilyn Miller, a social services assistant at Pleasantview Home, takes Luke with him to the rooms while spending one-on-one with the tenants. “Usually we take it with everyone we know who loves dogs.”
“He’s just a good dog,” she said. “We do all kinds of activities with Luke. He’s a good asset.”
Gingerich said Luke has become a bridge to communication, especially when dealing with people with dementia or being more reserved.
“Luke calmed the sad or alarmed residents as they stroked and talked to him. They like it when he sits on their lap,” Gingeric said.
On Wednesdays, Plesantwe hosts an ice cream party, and Luke often visits it.
“We have a kindergarten connected to us,” Yoder said. “Children come to socialize, and residents can watch Luke talking to the children. They like it.”
Pleasantview Home resident Fredia Bender is preparing to treat Luke with a treat on August 13.
Before becoming a resident of Pleasantview Home, Frida Bender and her husband spent 37 years farming. She likes spending time with Luke.
“I like his friendliness,” Bender said. He always wags his tail when he comes in, always looks like he’s happy to see me. He knows me.”
Bender admitted that she would rather have a dog than a cat.
“Cats can be so powerful,” she said.
Yoder hopes in the future to supplement Luke’s training with comprehensive training in pet therapy.
“I’d like to find out how we can use it even more with the residents,” she said.