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Therapy Dog Brightens the Day for Residents

(4/16/2013) Magenta, a two-year-old Boxer Bulldog, trots down the halls of Loris Extended Care Center excitedly stopping to visit with each person she passes. She is greeted with smiles and laughter, from residents and staff alike, and everyone looks forward to her weekly Wednesday visits. Magenta and her owner, Sara Eubanks Quinto, are members of the McLeod Loris Seacoast Volunteer Services Department.

Upon returning home to Green Sea ten years ago to care for her parents, Quinto's daughter got Magenta to keep her mother company.

"My dog had died so my daughter brought Magenta to me from Pennsylvania," Quinto said. "After seeing her energy, I decided she needed training."

At just six-months-old, Magenta completed her first training session – a six-week class where she earned a Good Citizenship Certificate for learning basic commands such as sit, stay and come.

Animal loving residents of Loris Extended Care Center (ECC) often miss the companionship of animals in their daily lives. Due to mobility issues, or financial concerns, many of them have not owned pets for a long time. Since the residents cannot own a pet at the ECC, they enjoy visits from therapy animals.

Magenta's trainer, who also trains dogs for autistic children, noticed her gentle nature and her ability to work with people. After the six week session, the trainer asked Quinto if she would consider training Magenta to be a therapy dog. Knowing Magenta loves attention, Quinto

agreed. Together, they completed the necessary Therapy Dog International Course to become trained to visit nursing home patients.

"Magenta was trained to sit, stay and avoid picking up things that are dropped on the floor such as food and medication," Quinto explained. "She is also trained to be around wheelchairs, walkers and other pieces of equipment found in nursing homes."

The benefits of pet therapy can be mental, physical, and emotional. Knowing Magenta is coming to visit gives the residents a sense of excitement and something to look forward to throughout the day.

"I think I enjoy it more than they do. When Magenta visits, she does tricks and spreads sunshine. I think it's great to get them to laugh every now and then, and they do," Quinto said. "There's just something about a dog that calms people down."

For more information about the Volunteer Services program at McLeod Loris Seacoast and ways you can make a difference to others, please contact (843) 390-8326.

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