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Therapy dog pays a virtual visit

April 10, 2020

“We had some of the executive directors message us and was like, ‘Look. Everybody’s asking where Oliver is,’ and it’s really hard to explain to these people that Oliver can’t come this week and they don’t understand,” said Brandy Barnard of Monarch Hospice. “So just to put some normalcy in their life, we said, ‘Let’s see what we can come up with, what we can do.'”

Oliver is a therapy dog, and he’s a regular visitor to senior facilities across Grayson County.

Although the yellow Labrador retriever can’t physically visit due to COVID-19 restrictions, his handlers found a high-tech alternative.

“They were able to do the video chats, and we thought, ‘Well, why not do that with Oliver, and they’d be able to see him?'” said Monarch Hospice owner Clair Petelski. “Because, definitely some specific people were mentioning him and how much they missed him.”

Oliver provides support to those who get lonely, maybe some who are missing past pets.

Now his image on an iPad means more than ever.

“It’s just part of all of us working together to make it through this hard time,” Petelski said. “But there can be some happiness and joy that we can still get out there.”

“It’s just trying to be a part of the community, still get some normalcy, let them know that we’re still here for them and that we’re still missing them,” Barnard added.

Aside from video visits, Oliver plans on making window appearances. They are also participating in drive-by parades across the county.

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