Furry friend brings fuzzy feelings

Resident at Piqua Manor gets Dozer kisses during his and his owner Victoria Jones visit on Wednesday.

PIQUA — Sometimes all it takes is a furry friend to give warm, fuzzy feelings. That friend known to do as such for many in the Piqua community is a Labrador Retriever by the name of Dozer.

Dozer and his owner Victoria Jones, of Piqua, have been visiting residents at Heartland of Piqua and Piqua Manor for over three years, every Monday and Wednesday. As a trained and certified therapy dog through Dogtors, of Tipp City, Dozer brings social, emotional, and physical benefits to residents.

“If we miss a day, we hear about it,” Jones said. “The residents and staff enjoy him.”

Dozer and Jones put in 230 hours of volunteer work yearly. All of the residential visits the duo make are strictly volunteer. “We go wherever anyone wants us to,” Jones said.

The 12 year-old lab came into Jones’ life when she noticed him stuck to a chain-linked fence due to having wet fur five years ago during an ice storm. Jones took him in and later found out Dozer belonged to her neighbors a few blocks from her place. The owners asked if Jones wanted to keep him and sure enough, she did.

Jones, who has worked in Troy City Schools with students with disabilities and has a background working in nursing homes, knew the benefits of pet therapy. She wanted to take Dozer with her wherever she went.

“I noticed everyone he came in contact with, they absolutely loved him,” Jones said. “They (students) seemed to have really enjoyed him in class.” Dozer’s vet even said to Jones, “This dog needs a job.”

While training, Dozer and Jones went through demonstrations with wheelchairs, walkers, and large groups of people, testing his behavior with others. There are tests such as a “loud test” to see how he reacts to loud noises or how to meet and great people.

“I haven’t found anyone that doesn’t like him,” Jones said.

Though, there was a time that Jones recalled when she thought a resident did not like Dozer, but was pleasantly surprised. While visiting a room with two roommates, Jones noticed one of the roommates had quit going to that room.

“I assumed he didn’t like dogs,” Jones said. “We never thought he knew Dozer existed.” The roommate never seemed awake or interested that Dozer was there.

Then one day, the roommate got Jones and Dozer’s attention.

“All of a sudden we hear, ‘Hey, get in here!’ and the man had actually got him (Dozer) treats and feeds him every single time. We didn’t even realize that he liked dogs, then we come to find out that he was in love with Dozer and bought him treats.”

When Dozer is not working, he is like any other dog with his own unique quirks.

Jones describes him as an “old soul” who is gentle, laid-back, and goes with the flow. He can also open doors and turn lights on and off.

“We have to childproof our house and we don’t have any children,” Jones said.