Suncoast therapy dog featured in nationwide campaign
SARASOTA COUNTY - They're loyal, loving, and sometimes luscious...just a few traits to describe man's best friend. For those reasons, dogs are taking on jobs beyond the skill sets of humans. On the Suncoast, therapy dogs help seniors with anything from heart health to loneliness.
A recent survey by Home Instead Senior Care revealed nearly 1 out of every 5 adult Americans experience loneliness. For seniors, that number more than doubles.
His name is max; a five-year-old cockapoo with a job unlike any other employee at Home Instead Sarasota. Owner, Terrie Hoops said, "Bringing smiles to people's faces. He'll dress up for Halloween. People just love seeing him."
Max is Home Instead's very own therapy dog, who makes pit stops to client's homes and local senior care facilities. She said, "It's meaningful activity and seniors will engage with the dog. So for example, even if they're using a wheelchair or mobility devices, they'll take a dog for a walk, they'll go outside and play fetch with him. The tricks that you see him do, we can get other seniors to do those tricks so they feel empowered."
Owner, Terrie Hoops, recognized the power of therapy dogs after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. One day as she received treatment at a hospital, a surprise came to her door step."One day a gentleman came in with a black lab, a therapy dog and it completely changed by day. It just lifted my spirits I really connected with the animal and I said to my husband, one day, we're going to do this," she said.
Hoops defeated breast cancer shortly after and added Max to the Home Instead family. Now, from a game of tug of war to a belly rub, Max helps seniors with loneliness, staying active, and for one patient at a local memory care facility, "When music started to play, she went up to Max and held onto his front paws and danced with him and all I could think was, 'When is the last time she's had the opportunity to dance with anybody,'" said David Hoops.
Therapy dogs like Max provide a short-term interaction with lasting effects. He said, "It's just heartwarming to see the impact he has on seniors."
To learn more about Max's story, click here.