Comfort Animal Visits Nursing Home


Toto lives and works in the Daviess County town of Washington.

This 9-year-old schnauzer mix has an important job. She delivers love and comfort all day long.

Gary Mattes:  “Whenever I bring her in, people holler Toto.”

Gary Mattes rescued Toto several years ago. HE GOT training for the former shelter dog and now, she’s certified as a comfort companion animal.  

Bob DeVore, “She minds real good and she’s a cute dog.”

Bob DeVore is a nursing home resident who benefits from Toto’s good nature.

Bob DeVore:  “She’s good to hold, and pet her and rub her, she’s a nice dog, couldn’t ask for a better one.”

Comfort animals must have certain skills and temperament to qualify for certification. Not every dog or cat is cut out for the close contact, is capable of consistently following commands and can maintain focus around unusual sights, sounds and smells.

Gary Mattes:  “And we go to the high school, special ed class, and we go to the hospital now, which is a great thing. There are several people there who love her, mostly the people who work there.”
Gary and Toto are a team something that nursing home director Van Kavanaugh appreciates.

Van Kavanaugh,  “He makes sure and pulls out those residents who may be a little more withdrawn or secluded and they just light up with Toto and he is excellent at making sure that happens.”

Toto may remind some of the residents of family pets that have come and gone and that’s okay. She’s happy to fill-in whenever she visits.

Phyllis Mandabach,  “It makes you feel real good, happy,  makes you smile, I think she’s always glad to see us.”

Toto earned her certification through TDI that’s Therapy Dog International.

It’s a volunteer organization that focuses on regulating companion canines and their handlers.

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