Laura Rexer and her golden retriever Mandy stumbled into volunteering.
Laura and her husband Joe brought Mandy along whenever they visited a friend who used a walker and a wheelchair. When the friend moved to a nursing facility, Laura and Mandy continued their visits.
Shortly after, Medicare began to require pet-therapy dogs to be certified. Laura and Mandy were not deterred. Mandy was tested and passed. Now, they were not only friendly visitors, they were pet therapy certified through Therapy Dogs International.
A Crossroads staffer met the pair at a health fair in Brecksville, OH, and soon enough, Mandy was being petted by our patients too. Laura and Mandy have made more than 250 nursing home visits since becoming certified plus approximately 50 visits prior to that certification!
Laura began volunteering with Mandy because it meant so much to her friend and to Laura’s parents, who lived in an assisted-living facility. “We enjoyed bringing joy and cheer to others and making people smile,” says Laura.
Over the years, Laura says that Mandy has remained “the faithful friend.” She always offers her paw to patients in need of comfort. Laura, in addition to bringing her pup, provides her own gift to her volunteer work by singing to patients.
Laura and Mandy visit two facilities for Crossroads and an additional facility on their own. Being a therapy dog means visiting everyone who wants to see them. “You cannot go into a facility with a dog and not expect many people to want to pet Mandy,” laughs Laura.
For more information about volunteering with Crossroads Hospice, please visit the Got 45? app on our Facebook page to be connected with a Volunteer Manager near you.
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