Residents of LB Homes got a furry and feathery surprise Thursday, Sept. 3 when a pet parade rolled through the care home campus. Animals haven’t been allowed to visit with residents, aside from compassionate care visits, since restrictions were put in place to stem the COVID-19 pandemic, so activities director Aaron Hanson came up with the idea for a parade as a way for residents to safely see some friendly, fuzzy faces.
“Our residents have really missed having social interaction with animals and getting to see them, so we just really wanted to figure out a way that we could do that while still following the guidelines of the Department of Health,” said Hanson. “We just wanted them to feel that happiness and enjoyment that they haven’t been able to for a while.”
The parade, which featured dogs, a horse and a goat, started by the recreation area on Channing Avenue at 3 p.m. and continued down the main loop past the Broen Home, Sheridan House and Alcott Manor. Residents were able to sit outside to watch or they could stay inside to watch from a window. They could not touch the animals but handlers made sure to get as close as was safely possible.
Hanson says that the joy residents get from seeing the animals goes beyond just enjoying the animals themselves. “A lot of our residents had farms growing up and have had animals growing up, so it really brings back a sense of nostalgia as well,” she says.
Animals have not been allowed to visit due to how many people might touch the animal, as well as risks of the animal, handler or resident contracting the virus (some animals, such as cats and dogs, have been reported to be infected, but the risk of them spreading it to people is considered to be low by the CDC). “We thought a pet parade would be the perfect way to fulfill those (safety) requirements and give residents a chance to interact with some different animals of all kinds,” Hanson said.