Greeting seniors, doing tricks and leaning in for hugs are just a few of the reasons Reese the therapy dog is a popular guest at Woodcrest Commons, a senior living community in Henrietta.
“[Pet therapy is] probably one of the most powerful things in the world,” said Kelly Pruden, Reese’s owner. “There are no expectations from a dog. Reese wants to see you smile. You feel good petting him. There’s no stress when he comes in with a big smile on his face. It’s really special to see what he does.”
Pruden offers pet therapy at Woodcrest Commons, for children receiving treatment at Golisano Children’s Hospital, and at area schools and colleges to help students with test jitters. She first got into pet therapy with her golden retriever Shamus, who died of cancer last year. Reese is certified through Therapy Dogs International Inc.
“When I see how people smile and relax, you just get that feel-good boost,” Pruden said. “For selfish reasons, it’s good for me. I’ve had a lot of good things happen to me. This is my way of continuing to pay it forward.”
At home, Reese has earned the name Devil Dog because he’s very bouncy and always getting into trouble. Once he’s got his therapy dog hat on, however, he’s a totally different dog, according to Pruden.
“I think he enjoys it,” she said. “He feels good and it’s a task for him. He understands and connects with a lot of the folks there.”
Now that Reese is trained as a therapy dog, his 9-month-old brother Teegan has taken over the title of Devil Dog at home.