Trotting down the halls of the Prince Albert Good Shepherd Villa retirement home, Oakley turns her share of heads.
“Here, girl,” one resident encourages. “How are you?” another asks.
“Oakley is probably the most wonderful stimulus that we have here in the home,” the centre’s recreational co-ordinator Jennifer Cocker said of the three-and-a-half year-old Labrador collie mix.
After passing a month-long trial adoption period, the centre and its 72 residents officially adopted Oakley from the Prince Albert SPCA on Wednesday.
“I think she’s been a great addition -- no doubt,” resident Jerry Asmussen said with a smile, watching the black canine receive attention from another resident.
Although the SPCA has placed cats in retirement homes in the past, this is the first time they’ve placed a dog, manager Debbie Lehner said.
“It’s been shown over the years survey-wise and stat-wise that these dogs almost count as therapy dogs,” she said. “They go around and they visit with guests in these facilities, and it’s really just a positive thing -- not only for guests but for the SPCA and the pet.”
Receiving her fair share of love, Oakley is free to roam throughout the facility, visiting with every resident who pays her mind as she goes.
Oakley is probably the most wonderful stimulus that we have here in the home. - Jennifer Cocker
“She is joyful, she creates joy, she creates conversation -- everybody will talk about her,” Cocker said. “I think everybody is concerned about her. Even around the breakfast table you’ll hear people, ‘did Oakley go for her walk today?’”
Oakley is loved like a family member, Cocker added, and has proven an excellent fit.
The local SPCA remains near capacity, assistant manager Leanne Roberts said, with seven dogs being transferred to other shelters on Sunday in order to free up space.
“We have one kennel in the back,” she said.
Trial adoptions, such as what the Good Shepherd Villa made use of, is an excellent tool that prospective cat or dog adopters can always use to make sure a pet fits in one’s household or centre, she noted.
“They need to be taught the rules of the household,” she said, noting that the SPCA is also always on the lookout for foster homes, which also help adapt pets to a household environment.