Humane Society of the North Bay brings the Cuddles
Pet therapy has long been known to benefit senior citizens’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Benefits include mental stimulation, physical activity and reinforced motor skills, reduced risk of dementia and calming negative behavior associated with dementia, and so much more. These benefits are shown with pet ownership as well as animal visitation.
In 2022, when Carlene Coury, a member of the advisory board of the Humane Society of the North Bay (HSNB), was asked by a staff member at Windsor Vallejo Care Center whether HSNB offered a shelter dog visitation program, she set wheels in motion. Carlene had seen how beneficial one such program had been for her own mother in her senior years. She brought the idea to the board and shortly thereafter, the HSNB Cuddle Club was born.
The program selects dogs at the HSNB shelter who are well suited for visitation and brings them to various senior living facilities in Vallejo, American Canyon, and Benicia, and so far, it’s been a great success. Both residents and staff at the senior living facilities have been immensely happy with the program as the visits boost the moods of all involved.
And it hasn’t just been good for the humans.
These Cuddle Club visits allow for the shelter dogs to become well socialized, increasing their adaptability to new situations, as well as their adopt-ability. In fact, Carlene reports that the shelter has even had adoptions arise directly from the Cuddle Club visits. It’s a “win-win,” as Carlene puts it.
Benicia Public Library Director Jennifer Baker learned about the Cuddle Club and reached out to Carlene about offering visits at the library. With its proximity to the Benicia Senior Center, it makes for a convenient Cuddle Club visit location. Visits at the library are scheduled to begin this month, on Saturday, November 18th and all seniors are welcome.
Carlene reports that the most important Cuddle Club goal is to make the visits “a fun, safe, and smooth experience for humans and dogs alike.” The program is run by 7 volunteers and continues to expand. “It’s a lot of fun and I have my volunteers,” says Carlene of the work it takes to run the program. If you’re interested in getting involved as a volunteer, or know of a facility that could benefit from Cuddle Club visits, contact the HSNB at hsnb.org.