Of all the beloved duos, there’s no more welcome (or fuzzy!) a twosome at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital (MSJ) than Stuart and his trusty sidekick, Nugget. Or should that be Nugget and his trusty sidekick, Stuart?
It was love at first sight. Stuart and his daughter were smitten the moment they saw the 100-pound rottweiler/shepherd/lab cross at the SPCA. And they were immediately impressed by his calm demeanor.
“Right from the get-go, Nugget has been gentle and well behaved,” recalls Stuart. He’s also been overly cautious! That’s how he earned the affectionate nickname ‘Wimpy Dog.’
“We knew right away that his temperament was special and that we wanted to share him with others.” So they took Nugget for special pet therapy training. He passed with flying colours and for the last three years, he and Stuart have been sharing their Saturday afternoons with the residents living in long-term care at MSJ.
“As soon as I get Nugget’s green bandana, he knows where we’re going.” On occasion, they’ve also brought along Nugget’s little brother, Ben, as a kind of two-for-one deal.
When pandemic precautions put a halt to in-person visits, the pair worked with volunteer coordinator Mary Gallop to come up with a solution.
Today, thanks to the generosity of donors, the help of MSJ’s awesome staff, and the magic of FaceTime, the pair have been able to continue spending time with their adoring fans.
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Dogs are incredibly therapeutic. You see it at every dog park, in every office with a ‘bring your dog to work’ policy, and at MSJ.
It’s more than just the chance to pat a friendly pooch. Their visits help alleviate stress, encourage movement, and improve social interactions. Even residents who may be otherwise withdrawn, open up when Nugget is around.
“One resident only uses two words when we’re there, but those two words are ‘beautiful’ and ‘happy,'” says Stuart.
Spending time with good boys like Nugget can be especially rewarding for residents living with dementia. Animals can trigger fond memories of pets they had. They are comforted and engaged by seeing them – even when they can’t pat them in person.
Andrea, one of MSJ’s awesome rehabilitation assistants, tells the story of Mrs. C. “She can’t keep her hands off the screen as she tries to touch and pat Nugget! I’ve never seen such a smile on her face!”
Mrs. C isn’t the only one smiling. Stuart says, “Nugget and I love it. Seeing the residents so happy and engaged is beyond fulfilling.”
Gifts to Lights of Hope bring comfort and joy to our most vulnerable residents. Stuart and Nugget are just one example (okay, two examples). Give now at www.lightsofhope.com. And if you’re at St. Paul’s, tap the Living Light near the tunnel of stars to give any amount. If you ask Nugget, he’ll tell you a gift of $5 buys treats for our residents to give to good boys like him.
Follow Stuart and Nugget on Instagram at @thediaryofawimpydog.