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Wisconsin nursing home residents get weekly doses of puppy love

CBS News logo CBS News 12/29/2020 Chip Reid
a dog lying on a rug: sayde-nov30.jpg © Credit: CBSNews sayde-nov30.jpg

Washington — Nursing homes can be especially lonely around the holidays, even more so this year because COVID-19 is keeping visitors out — human visitors, that is.

A nursing home in Madison, Wisconsin, has been getting a weekly dose of puppy love. A puppy named Sayde has been visiting the Madison home and can regularly be seen running around, chewing and pawing on tennis balls on walkers.

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Although the puppy isn't a service dog, Vi Tully and Helen Ziegler, two residents of the home, say the five month old puppy does provide a service to the residents.

a dog that is lying down and looking at the camera © Provided by CBS News

"She brings some life to the whole building," Tully said. 


Video: Nursing home eases residents' loneliness with weekly puppy visits (CBS News)

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With the coronavirus raging in the outside world, life in nursing homes can be painfully lonely. 

"We don't get much company right now with the virus," Tully added. "We were all locked up. So she's about the only company we get."

Teri Fichter, a volunteer coordinator at SSM Health in Baraboo, Wisconsin, spotted Sayde outside the building with her owner. She described the puppy as a "little yellow ball of fire."

After seeing the puppy, Fichter asked the owner, "Can I bring her in the building?"

Now, Sayde has visited once a week for three months.

a woman holding a dog © Provided by CBS News

"They just want to pet her and talk to her and smell her puppy breath," Fichter said. "She even brings a tear to some of the residents' eyes ... she just makes everybody happy."

"Who doesn't like a puppy, you know?" Fichter continued.

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