An employee’s teacup poodle has become the perky mascot of a Minnesota nursing home, KARE 11 News reports.
Despite a lack of formal training as a therapy dog, Nala brings joy and comfort to the elderly residents of the Lyngblomsten care home in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Nala rides the nursing home’s elevator and leaps onto wheelchairs and beds to cuddle with patients.
“She’s an angel,” 90-year-old Ruth New told King 5. “I love her and she loves me.”
Five-year-old Nala first came to Lyngblomsten with her owner, medications assistant Doug Dawson. He adopted her from the nursing home he’d worked at previously.
Nala has an uncanny ability to pick out which residents need a little extra love. “She’ll pick out the person with Alzheimer’s,” Dawson told KARE11. “She has a way of picking the sick.”
Therapy dogs are useful across a wide range of difficult human situations. The empathetic canines can help comfort veterans with PTSD, Alzheimer’s patients and autistic children.
It’s intuitive that people feel better with a fluffy friend. Indeed, studies have shown that therapy dogs decrease agitation in patients with dementia and improve health outcomes for patients hospitalized with heart failure.