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These Beavercreek nursing home dogs help residents and let themselves out

Dayton Daily News - 7/8/2019

Jul. 7--A local nursing home is enlisting employee's dogs to boost residents' morale.

The home-grown program at Trinity Community of Beavercreek features six dogs of various breeds that have been trained in various commands to make sure they don't jump on residents, growl or bite. All are pets of Trinity employees.

The oldest is Kuma, a 14-year-old Akita Shepard mix who's been a regular with the residents since he was little. He has been trained so well, he can run loose on the grounds without extreme supervision.

"Everything Kuma does is based on habit, because he was trained so well," said Joe Bertke, environment service director, who owns four of the six dogs that come to Trinity each week.

Bertke's other dogs are Frank, an Akita; Titus, an English bulldog; and Mox, the newest puppy and a French bulldog. They are even trained to let themselves out of the door for potty breaks and then return.

"There is no rhyme or reason on breed picking," Bertke said.

Bertke's dogs have gone through obedience training at Big Time Kennel in Centerville and he works on other training with them.

The dogs have been at Trinity since they were puppies. None of the dogs have come through agencies that provide dogs for such uses. Bertke said he doesn't recommend rescue dogs for this kind of work, because they are harder to train and their backgrounds are often unknown.

"The residents love puppies and they love babies," said Ron Easthon, director of marketing.

Trinity staff say the dogs have a positive impact on residents' morale and emotions, especially with newer arrivals to the nursing home.

"Never had a complaint, we had one question the program and raised concerns, polled current population of residents and overwhelmingly said you better not get rid of the program," Easthon said.

Long-term-care resident Evelyn Buschur lights up when you talk about the dogs at Trinity. Buschur is a dog owner, too.

"Her family piped up and said how much she loves dogs and looks forward to seeing them," Easthon said. "They specifically named Roxy and pulled out a bag of treats they keep in her dresser in her room to give them."

Roxy, a mixed breed, along with Jax, a mastiff mix, are the other dogs at Trinity.

The dogs consider Trinity another home because they are there three to four days a week and the residents keep treats ready for their furry friends.

The dogs are limited to where they can and cannot go, based on whether residents have allergies or don't prefer the canine company. "Certain dogs in certain areas," Bertke said.

Trinity Community of Beavercreek is at 3218 Indian Ripple Road. For more information on the dog program, contact Easthon at 937-426-8481.

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