Porter – Brining Smiles to the Residents of the St. John Community – One Pet at a Time Posted on February 6, 2023March 8, 2023 There is a new volunteer at the St. John Community, and he is quickly becoming a Community favorite. His name is Porter, a three-month-old, Golden Retriever puppy. He frequents the residents daily with his owner Michaela Sutherland, activities coordinator for St. John. “I wanted him to become comfortable in this kind of setting,” explains Sutherland, “My goal is for him to become a therapy dog.” Therapy dogs provide comfort, support, and emotional healing to individuals in need. These dogs are specially trained to have a calm demeanor, be patient and friendly, which allows them to interact with people of all ages and backgrounds. Needless to say, Porter takes his job very seriously, bringing comfort, joy and smiles to all he encounters. “The residents love being around animals, especially dogs! As soon as they see him they instantly have a smile on their face,” explained Sutherland. “They really enjoy spending time with him.” The health benefits of therapy animals are immense, and in some cases, those who live with dementia see great benefits from a dog like Porter. Research has shown that spending time with therapy dogs can have a positive impact on mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also improve physical health by lowering blood pressure and reducing pain levels. “It’s amazing to see how much the residents open up when animals are around,” said Sutherland. While Porter is still in training, he does a wonderful job brightening up the day of residents. There is no denying; Porter has a bright career ahead of him at the St. John Community. — Lutheran SeniorLife is a premier provider of senior services with the broadest and deepest continuum of integrated services throughout the tri-state region. Through a variety of senior living communities and care options, we can meet the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of each individual; providing Abundant Life® opportunities for those we serve and those who serve. Services include adoption; adult day services; affordable housing; assisted living; home health; home safety monitoring; hospice; LIFE (Living Independence for the Elderly); Meals on Wheels; outpatient rehabilitation services; palliative care; personal care; residential living; senior centers and skilled nursing. To learn more, visit us at www.lutheranseniorlife.org.