Who doesn’t love a friendly dog, whose only purpose — seemingly — is to bring them happiness? That’s exactly what it’s like with Rusty, the 8-year-old chocolate Labrador who has spent the past six years spreading love and happy thoughts throughout the Toulon Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Toulon, Ill.
Rusty’s life has been pretty good since he was found by the sister of the nursing home’s administrator, Sue VanDeRostyne, in 2008, when he was a stray running through her backyard. Since then, he’s brought happiness to many a resident, cheering them up by being a dog to lean on — especially among those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
“They just lighten up,” VanDeRostyne told McKnight’s, a site dedicated to long-term care and assisted living news. “Rusty gets called so many different names because people who have had dogs in the past call him ‘Brownie’ or ‘Missy.’ He’ll go over to them, he’ll come and walk right over to the wheelchair and will stay until they’re done petting him.”
Besides offering companionship, Rusty also helps with therapy. One resident, for example, refused to participate in therapy, but the nursing home staff knew that he loved Rusty. They made him believe that he was just throwing the ball for Rusty to fetch, but it was really a way “to get him to do that activity, and they’d do their therapy session together,” VanDeRostyne told McKnight’s.
If you want to see Rusty’s love in action, check out the video below.