Riderwood, a continuing care retirement community in Silver Spring, MD, has a new part-time resident who can actually make delivery truck drivers exit their vehicles to greet her – and she never leaves paw prints on them.
This particular resident is an eight-year-old beagle named Ginger who has just completed her orientation to be a Pets on Wheels dog, which means she is officially approved to help in Renaissance Gardens, the assisted living/skilled nursing facility located at Riderwood. Ginger’s duties will include visiting residents to help them build friendships. She will also make residents and staff laugh and smile. Who knows…she might even help to lower blood pressures.
Ginger’s path to Riderwood pulls on the heartstrings just as her symbolic ancestor, Lassie, did so many times on iconic television shows and in books. Ginger is shared by Karen Spicer, a Community Resources Coordinator at Riderwood who lives in Ellicott City, MD, and by Spicer’s friend who lives in Catonsville, MD.
Spicer met Ginger nearly four years ago when she began dog-sitting whenever Ginger’s family, who raised the dog from a pup, would go on vacation. Spicer’s friend (a wife and mother of four) thought up and offered this unique dog-sharing arrangement to her. It has worked out to be the best of both worlds for all involved.
Spicer picks Ginger up on the first Sunday of the month and drops her back on the third Sunday of the month. “It has been great because it allows both of us to enjoy her, as well have times when our schedules are more free,” said Spicer.
“It’s really important for me since I am the only human in my household and I work fulltime; I do not leave her alone on weekdays other than the hours I must be at work. It really is a lot of work and a big commitment to take good care of a dog.”
Ginger, according to Spicer, is sweet, compliant and unusually obedient and quiet for a beagle. “She loves to tell people that they are great,” said Spicer. “She is great company for me. I am a better person for having her.”
Ginger has helped Spicer to build bonds with neighbors, as well as to talk with strangers. “One guy asked what her name is,” said Spicer. “ After I replied, ‘Ginger,’ he quipped, ‘She looks more like a Maryanne to me.’ We had a good laugh from that.