With a late-summer heat wave in full force, it’s safe to say the dog days of summer have officially arrived. This past weekend, The Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills decided to embrace the heat by celebrating the dog days in a very literal sense– with actual dogs.
For the second year in a row, family members of Birches residents were invited to bring their dogs to The Birches for an afternoon of canine companionship that included treats for both the animal and human participants. The event took place on the patio of The Birches’ memory care neighborhood, Encore, and was attended by close to ten four-legged family members.
“This event was a great opportunity for everyone to come together and enjoy the outdoors and each other,” said Birches’ Activities Director Katie Klitchman. “Dogs are such an important part of many people’s families, so it’s nice that they could be included.”
Residents and their family members used the opportunity to share stories about their family pets, while also enjoying the lively interaction between the canine guests, who quickly made friends with their furry and non-furry counterparts.
“Dogs bring out the joy in people,” said Klitchman. “They encourage everyone to laugh and tell stories. I really feel like they put everyone in a happier, more social mood.”
Both anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests that dogs (and other pets) do, in fact, help people get in touch with their social side. Studies have shown that people walking with a dog are more likely to receive social acknowledgement from strangers than people walking alone, that people with dogs are more likely to receive help from strangers than people without dogs, and that the mere presence of a dog reduces agitation and promotes social behavior in people with dementia.
From an anecdotal perspective, Klitchman said that residents and their family members were clearly talking and engaging more with one another as a result of the dogs, which means dogs might become a more regular part of the Birches social calendar in months to come.
“It’s funny how having dogs around encourages people to socialize with one another,” said Klitchman. “This event was so successful that I’m sure we’ll be seeing furry faces and wagging tails at The Birches more often.”