Dog finds home with seniors

Lombard, IL

The Sunrise Senior Living community in Lombard has adopted Bailey, a 25-pound homeless beagle, as its resident therapy dog. The community opened in late September, and has 30 residents who now are Bailey’s new favorite companions.

Bailey was found through an organization named A Cry For Help, which shelters battered or lost animals. Although most of his history is unclear, Bailey is known to be from Tennessee and approximately 3 years old. He originally was an outside dog, which means the community has begun to house train him. Bailey gets a free run of the community, except for certain areas, such as the dining room.

“We’ve been on a mission for quite a while trying to find the perfect house pet,” said Nikki Bolz, activity and volunteer coordinator at Sunrise, who was actively involved in Bailey’s selection and adoption.

Bolz said there were many questions, which all revolved around resident safety, to be answered before selecting the right dog. In selecting the right companion, the community considered a dog’s personality, size and shedding. Community residents did have trial runs with a few other dogs before finally choosing Bailey.

“All the residents were involved in finding Bailey,” Bolz said.

Sunrise Senior Living has communities established nationwide. Of the 23 communities scattered throughout Illinois, Lombard was the most recent one to adopt a dog.

“Every Sunrise has a dog living in the community,” said Mark Blau, executive director of the Lombard location. “It is one of our signatures.”

Blau said having a dog on site is a valuable asset, giving the residents the chance to have a household pet.

“It’s really all about being engaged with things and being connected with another living thing,” Blau said.

One aspect the Sunrise communities focus on is memory care for residents who are in different stages of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. By having daily responsibilities for Bailey such as feedings and walkings, residents are able to keep their independence going and stimulate their memory. This gives residents meaningful and purposeful duties to fulfill each day.

In mere weeks, Bailey already has become friends with his new roommates. Sarah Prange, the concierge for the community, is one of Bailey’s many admirers.

“Everyone just falls in love with him,” Prange said.

Bailey has begun to learn household manners and is now barking and whining for attention from his loved ones, which is something he did not do when he first came to the community.

“Now he has a home,” Bolz said, “and many people who already love and adore him.”