CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Mary Arnold is a resident at Eaton County Health and Rehabilitation Services. She got her dog, Sunny Boy, about three weeks ago.
He barks. He wags his tail.
And he runs on batteries.
Sunny Boy is a Companion Pet, a mechanical stuffed animal made to give older adults the experience of pet ownership without the hassles of a real pet. The dogs and cats respond to touch and motion.
"He's lovable and keeps me happy," Arnold said, who brushes Sunny Boy's hair every day and sometimes brings him to activities.
The skilled-nursing facility was awarded 38 companion pets from Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. Since residents got their pets, the Experience Coordinator Sienna McCone said they've been in better spirits.
"The day we first started passing them out, everyone walking down the hall you can just hear their laughter in the rooms as they were playing and seeing them wag their tails and seeing all the different things they can do," said McCone. "And they wanted all the employees to come in and meet their pets. They wanted to show them off."
Arnold hasn't seen her family in about a year and said it's been hard not seeing them but that Sunny Boy is great company.
"Just being there and watching TV with me. And watch what I'm doing. Like if I'm coloring or something and things like that," Arnold said.
McCone said they purchased seven additional pets and are looking into getting more since not all of the residents were able to get one.
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