By ROB JONAS
LOUDONVILLE – Penny might just be the most valuable member of The Loudonville Assisted Living Residence team.
She greets visitors at the door. She spends time with the residents. She spreads joy wherever she goes.
She also happens to be a 5-year-old, 45-pound English Golden Retriever who is certified through Therapy Dogs International.
Penny is Loudonville Assisted Living’s therapy dog – a role she was literally born to play.
“I brought Penny in when she was only eight weeks old,” said Loudonville Assisted Living owner-operator Rhea O’Connor. “As soon as she was old enough to go out with me, she came with me to work.”
O’Connor said she got the idea to bring Penny on board from reading about how therapy pets can help the elderly make a smooth transition into assisted living.
“Pets are such a tremendous part of people’s lives, and the initial transition for a lot of older adults as they move to an assisted living facility means they have to give up a little of their independence – including pets,” said O’Connor.
Penny’s presence in the grand parlor contributes to providing a family atmosphere at Loudonville Assisted Living, said O’Connor.
“We’re one of the few remaining independently owned and operated assisted living facilities in the Northeast,” she said. “The owners are on site, and Penny can be considered one of the owners.”
O’Connor was also born to serve the elderly. Her grandparents opened the assisted living center 50 years ago, and her father, Michael Levine, is also an owner. They have striven to make Loudonville Assisted Living feel as close to a grand home as possible.
“When you walk in, it really does feel like a home,” said O’Connor. “The staff is always so friendly. We have housekeepers who have been on staff for 30 years. It’s even decorated to feel like a home.”
The facility is divided into three centers, each of which serve a specific need for its residents.
“We have an assisted living, an enhanced assisted living and a memory care center,” said O’Connor. “Having those three centers in one facility allows residents to age in place.
“While we have all the services necessary to age in place, it feels like a home,” she added.
The Loudonville Assisted Living Residence is located at 298 Albany Shaker Road. For more information, visit loudonvillealr.com.