The 22-pound animal is full of energy. He swings his tail left and right as patients circle in the Baxter Regional Medical Center’s Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation to watch him perform old and new tricks.
Barney, who’s 7-and-a-half, is not an average Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Right after his performance on Tuesday, Jean Gaylord, program director for the Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation, presented the dog with the American Kennel Club Therapy Dog Distinguished medallion.
Barney received the medallion through the American Kennel Club (AKC) for completing 400 visits. He has visited several facilities, such as nursing homes, assisted living, BRMC and some private homes. It took the tricolored animal — who is mostly black, white on the chest and brown coloring around the eyes and mouth — five years to reach the milestone.
Barney is one of several therapy dogs from a group named Paws of Love Therapy Dogs, which is sponsored by the Alliance Therapy Dogs. The handlers and dogs are registered through the Alliance Therapy Dogs, which tests the dogs, making sure they have the temperament to do therapy. The dogs visit nursing homes, private homes, libraries, schools and BRMC.
During the visits, people pet the dogs.
Co-founder and coordinator for Paws of Love Therapy Dogs Lynda Dudek said petting a dog triggers happy memories, as well as releasing stress — people would walk to the dogs to give them love, causing a calming reaction for people.
AKC had already given the medallion to Dudek, but she picked Gaylord to present it to Barney. Gaylord said a lot of the patients have dogs at home. The therapy dogs…