Roxy the dog brings out smiles
By Sue Tiffin
Roxy Campbell walks through the automatic doors of the Minden emergency department and is immediately greeted by name by nurses, who get a quick pet in. She then takes a moment to cozy up to anyone waiting at triage who might need a cuddle before she walks on through to her intended destination, Hyland Crest.
There, she basks in the same enthusiastic reaction to her visit – staff and residents light up when they see her face, and as she walks toward them she offers them a famous smile in return, connecting in friendship.
Roxy is a friendly nine-year-old golden retriever who has been visiting residents, especially her great-aunt Agnes, since she was about seven weeks old. When Roxy walks into Agnes’s room, the woman smiles at the sight of the dog, feeding her treats to both of their delight.
After the visit, or perhaps once the treats run out, Roxy heads next door to see Bob Hurrie.
“Don’t rush,” says Bob, offering a treat, then a pet, a treat, then a pet, to Roxy, who gobbles it all up.
From there, she walks down to the common room of the long-term care facility, stopping for interaction as she’s recognized along the way, before flopping down on her side next to a television broadcasting late afternoon soap operas. She wags her tail a few times in acknowledgement of people greeting her, and waits for her friends to approach her.
“It’s just part of her routine, isn’t it?” says Andy Campbell, as he looks at his dog with pride. “She comes in, says hello. It’s all about food. But she likes people, as most dogs do, wants to go and see them, say hello.”
Roxy is Andy’s third golden retriever, and the second to visit Hyland Crest with him, about twice weekly, when he stops in to say hello to his aunt. Andy says, “Let’s go see Agnes,” and the two walk down the street to do just that.
“Part of her routine is to come through the emergency department and stop at the triage,” he said. “I always cut through, and when I cut through with the dog, somebody would see me and I’d stop to talk to them, say hello. The next time, Roxy will look for that person. Then the next time, someone else might say hello. And Roxy will come in and look for that person. And now she just stops. When we were just there before, the nurse came out and pet her. Isn’t that nice? It’s really nice.”
As he speaks of Roxy, a resident who once had a dog on her farm comes to the common room, gets down on her hands and knees, and pets Roxy’s belly, before offering the coveted treat.
“I do appreciate knowing you,” she says to the dog.
“There’s a connection they can make,” says Andy. “If you can make a connection with a dog, it’s not going to interrupt your routine, but maybe change it a little bit ...And most of them had dogs at some point in their life, so they go, ‘oh, this reminds me of Trixie,’ or ‘my dog...’ and I end up having a conversation with them about their pets.”
And the visits are nice for Andy, too.
“I get a great deal of satisfaction too, because I end up talking with the residents,” he says. “You end up making a connection as well, and that’s nice. She’s made friends, and I’ve made friends.”