Love is the best reward for this therapy dog
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Love is the best reward for this therapy dog Featured

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For many, the simple act of caring is heroic.

Walking the halls of a nursing home in Gananoque in the fall of 2017, Therapy Dog Rufus is greeted with smiles and warm embraces by the 104 residents.

Rufus, a seven-year-old Welsh springer spaniel, has been spreading joy and companionship every Friday at Carveth Care Centre for years.

According to his handler, André Dubois, Rufus became a certified therapy dog through St. John Ambulance-Loyalist Branch in Kingston.

“Rufus and I went through a rigorous screening and training process before we were even accepted into the program,” confirms André. “Rufus visits Carveth Care Centre and other communities to help people lead better lives.”

A retired civil servant with the federal Industry Department, André brings his beloved dog to Carveth to visit residents and staff. It is a pastime they both enjoy.


“Rufus goes from room-to-room and provides an opportunity for residents to give him a pat on the head, touch or cuddle, which creates a calming and relaxing influence,” explains André. “It is proven, when people pet animals, it can actually help lower blood pressure.”

“Some residents are not mobile or have difficulties moving their hands to pet the dog, but Rufus is very sensitive to handicaps,” continues André. “He will often extend his paw so that it becomes possible for a resident to feel his fur. Sometimes, the staff will ask me to take Rufus to see specific residents which he is happy to do. Some patients even ask for an extra visit. His visits are very popular and several patients reward Rufus with an occasional treat.”

Grateful for the joy they spread in the home, Activity Director Shannon Buell describes the impact of their visits.

“André and Rufus have been volunteering at Carveth Care Centre for years,” confirms the manager. “They’re so well liked here, they feel like part of our family. Residents look forward to their visits every Friday. Rufus is an amazing therapy dog. He’s loving, patient and well-behaved. In addition to visiting the residents and staff with his dog, André volunteers for special events. They’re an incredible pair who spread joy and happiness wherever they go.”

The sentiment is shared by Paula Lewis, Policy and Program Development Coordinator at the home.

“Not only does Rufus and André lift the spirits of our residents and families, as a staff member at Carveth Care Centre, I can attest that both Rufus and André have a very special place in the hearts of staff as well. Most of us will stop and pet, play and talk to Rufus. Rufus allows everyone to live in the moment and helps us to deal with whatever is going on in our day. He always understands and makes our day brighter. André is incredible as Rufus’ handler. His kind and gentle demeanor, with both Rufus and the residents, is amazing. We are very fortunate to have this special couple as part of the Carveth family.”

André is grateful for the feedback about Rufus who makes residents brighten, smile and call him by name. It is work that helped Rufus earn recognition from St. John Ambulance for completing over 150 visits in his assignments to Carveth and schools.

“Rufus also visits schools and libraries for a program called Paws 4 Stories,” says André with a smile. “This St. John Ambulance program takes child-tested dogs into schools and libraries to help children build literary confidence by reading to a dog. Dogs also help take away some of the students’ stress during exam time. Children are often excited for a chance to read to Rufus and show improvements in their reading skills.”

Asked to describe Rufus, André notes, “He is a remarkable dog. He is gentle and has a laid-back demeanour. He has made numerous friends at Carveth Care Centre, most of whom are dog lovers. Rufus knows the routine and his visits create a wonderful experience as he meets patients and staff. Occasionally, Rufus gets to meet family members who are pleased to see their loved ones receive unconditional love from a dog. Rufus enjoys it all and has the most fun.”

Carveth Care Centre believes pet therapy can contribute to optimum health and happiness. The home is grateful for the affection and kindness of Rufus & André and other pet therapy volunteers.

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