Therapy Pets Bring Joy to Residents and Staff Alike at Phoebe Richland

Phoebe Richland resident with visitor

When Last Chance Ranch visits Phoebe Richland in Richlandtown, Pa., the smiles on residents’ faces light up the entire campus! Bringing dogs, cats, ferrets, goats, and sheep to visit with residents over the last eight years, Last Chance Ranch is a nonprofit organization that rescues and rehabilitates equines, farm, and domestic companion animals.

According to the American Senior Communities website, “Pet therapy for seniors, also known as Animal Assisted Therapy, is a technique that uses animals to interact with seniors for numerous reasons to help improve their quality of life. Studies show that just 15 minutes spent bonding with an animal promotes hormonal changes within the brain. Stress levels drop as the brain produces serotonin (the “feel-good” hormone), along with prolactin and oxytocin.”

Last Chance Ranch visits Phoebe Richland regularly, and the staff are just as excited as the residents to play with the animals. Staff can take a “paws” in their day and pet a chihuahua or terrier. This helps them to relax and alleviate stress. Several staff members have even adopted Last Chance Ranch dogs after meeting them at Phoebe Richland.

Humphrey the love bird and Kaz the Goldendoodle

“Residents adore when we bring the dogs in! They just light up, they can’t wait to see them,” says Anne-Marie Pettito Thomas, community life lead at Phoebe Richland. Thomas worked at Last Chance Ranch before coming to Phoebe Richland — she would bring pets to visit with the residents and assist with the program.

Kazper, an eight-and-a-half-year-old Goldendoodle, visits Phoebe Richland weekly with his owner, Barbara Beck. They visit all the neighborhoods in the Health Care Center, and the residents love seeing both of them. Beck has been bringing Kazper to Phoebe Richland for almost five years. One of his favorite things to do is to nuzzle the legs of residents. Some residents have even requested treats from family members to give to Kazper during his weekly visits.

Not all therapy pets are visitors, though. Humphrey is a peach-faced love bird and lives at Phoebe Richland. He loves to chirp, and residents come by and visit with him daily.

Across all four Phoebe campuses, residents enjoy spending time with therapy and rescue animals.

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CHHSM Board and Staff are grieved to learn of the death of our friend and colleague, Greg Watson, who died in October 2022. Greg was vice president of operations for Embrace Living Communities, based in Oak Brook, Ill.Greg was a graduate of CHHSM’s Nollau Leadership Institute, class of 2018-2019, and was consecrated as a Diakonal Minister during our 2019 Annual Gathering in Chicago. In an article about his class in June 2018 — not long after the group’s first retreat — Greg said, “The best part is not only beginning the process of clarifying your calling; but also, understanding and accepting one’s personal strength. Recognition of one’s ‘true' self enables us to serve from a place of wholeness.”Greg also served on the CHHSM Board of Directors, and was a beloved friend and colleague to many in the CHHSM family. Embrace Living stated on its website, “Greg was an outstanding servant leader for 17 years at Embrace Living Communities. He will be greatly missed.”CHHSM sends its prayers and love to Greg’s friends, family, and Embrace Living colleagues. ... See MoreSee Less
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