There are few things in life that inspire as much joy in people as a wet nose and a wagging tail.
Jean Meikle can attest to the joy and happiness her little dog Mr. Twee has been bringing to many of the residents who reside in our community’s full-time care facilities.
Mr. Twee was certified as a St. John Ambulance therapy dog in July 2005 and has been a well behaved canine ambassador ever since. Meikle said Mr. Twee loves everybody and when she saw an ad in the paper looking for therapy dogs, she knew her best friend would be perfect for the job.
“We took a test and he passed with flying colours.”
Every Friday the perky Pekingese pooch and his owner visit Trillium Lodge, Cokely Manor and Arrowsmith Lodge. On Monday the two bring their cheer to the residents of Stanford Place and Eagle Park Health Centre.
Meikle doesn’t get paid for her weekly visits but she said just brightening a person’s day is reward enough.
“I enjoy doing it. He brings happiness to so many people.”
It has been proven that affection and regular contact with a dog can reduce feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety and can help people recover more quickly from an illness. Meikle said she has seen first hand how the unconditional love of her pet can provide a calming and therapeutic affect on people.
She recalled one visit where a man at Arrowsmith Lodge had been feeling sad until Mr. Twee turned his frown upside down.
“I could tell he had been crying. I put Mr. Twee on his lap and it brought him a huge smile. He didn’t want to let him go.”
She said one time they visited an Alzheimer’s patient and the transformation was incredible.
“I put the dog on her knee and he licked her under the chin and then her eyes popped open and she had a humongous smile on her face … she just shined. She talked and said she loved the adorable dog … she opened her arms and kissed her husband on top of his head.”
Meikle said the woman passed away a year ago and that is the part of the job that never comes easy.
Meikle, who will be turning 83 this summer, said on the days that she and Mr. Twee are not visiting the care homes, they are walking down at the Parksville Community Park and that is what keeps them healthy.
She said Mr. Twee will be celebrating his 11th birthday on April 18 and there will be a dog party in his honour.
“My friend and I always have a party to celebrate our pets birthdays. I will go to her place for lunch with my four dogs … she has two dogs and three cats and Mr. Twee will get some treats.”