Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Why the Jewish Pavilion is going to the dogs


Molly and Frasier visit with Oakmonte Village residents.

The Jewish Pavilion is going to the dogs- and the residents they serve in long-term care couldn't be happier. On Jan. 26 the Jewish Pavilion launched its new Licks and Hugs Program at Oakmonte Village in Lake Mary under the guidance of Pavilion Program Director Emily Newman, with help from Sanford's Pet Rescue by Judy. On a chilly Tuesday morning, rescue dogs Molly, Frasier, and Cookie brought the warm fuzzies to dozens of assisted living and memory care residents as part of the visiting pet program. Newman gave dogged praise to volunteer Sharon Pinhas, who suggested the program, which is planned to take place on a monthly basis.

"Our new Licks and Hugs program is very much in line with our mission of bringing companionship and community to the seniors we serve. The licks and hugs are just one more way we help them smile," stated Newman. Oakmonte resident Shirley S. concurred, beaming from ear to ear, as she rubbed noses with a furry friend.

Judy Sarullo of Judy's Pets noted that pet visits invigorate seniors and aid memory function by bringing up long-forgotten memories of the past. Oakmonte resident Mel G. reinforced this point when he exclaimed, "What a shayna hunt (pretty dog)," using the Yiddish language of his youth, as rescue pup Cookie nuzzled at his knee. He continued his trip down memory lane and reminisced about his childhood in Brooklyn. He shared that his mother had always wanted him to have a dog, but they weren't able to have one because she had to work long hours at the family's store. Mel's daughter, Randi Cunningham, expressed appreciation for the program, noting that Mel missed his cat, who had passed before he relocated to the continuing-care community.

Sarullo stated that she is very careful when choosing pets to visit senior homes, and picks only calm, affectionate and easy-going ones. On this particular day, toy dogs Molly and Frasier are passed from lap to lap, never running out of hugs, licks, and sniffs for the crowd of residents. Cookie, a smallish shepherd mix, quietly nuzzles at the knee of several of the seniors. "Our visits enliven the residents and are great opportunity for our pets to socialize, too," Sarullo shared.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes the benefits of pets for people of all ages. Its website shares that pets help lower blood pressure and benefit overall health. They also can help ease feelings of loneliness. Pet visits are becoming increasingly common at senior living communities, and Newman feels they offer a myriad of benefits for older adults.

"Visiting pets offer comfort and provide a soft touch in more ways than one. They can fulfill a tactile as well as an emotional need, and may bring back memories of a beloved pet or a happy time," she said.

To attend a future Licks and Hugs program with the Jewish Pavilion, call 407-678-9363. To make a donation or for more information, please contact http://www.jewishpavilion.org or call 407-678-9363.

To find out more about Molly, Frasier, or Cookie or other rescue pets please contact petrescuebyjudy.com.


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