A knight in shining armor, he’s not. This modern day Sir Lancelot uses a soft fur, liquid eyes and a gentle presence to win over his kingdom.
And if that sounds like a dog’s way of doing things, so be it. At the Camelot Unit of Brownwood Nursing and Rehabilitation, where Sir Lancelot — Lance for short — has recently become a resident, it’s working.
In a once upon a time dog’s world, Lance, formerly known as Uno, had been abandoned in one of the side pens at the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center. He had, as they say, a short leash on life. But that changed in a flash, when he was selected to be the dog in residence at Camelot.
Daryl Hoyt, an administrator at Brownwood Nursing and Rehab, said as most people know, animal therapy has many positive effects at nursing care centers. Having a dog in residence in the Camelot unit, a special care unit for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, was something he wanted to try.
“I sort of knew what I wanted,” Hoyt said. “I know that some centers have success with keeping a cat, but it worried me that maybe a cat would trip up one of our patients, who is struggling to walk.”
The dog of choice would be short-haired, fairly small, not too young or energetic, not a big barker. Hoyt said he went “dog shopping” at the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center, where Dan Kelly suggested several dogs he thought might work.
Hoyt asked to try Lance — Uno as he was called at the time — for a couple of hours on Friday. But Lance did so well on his short trial, Hoyt called back and asked Kelly if he could stay a few days.
On Wednesday, Hoyt and Lance went back to the center long enough to get Lance’s microchip and shots (he’d already been neutered) and for Hoyt to pay the fees and sign the papers.
“He’s been great,” Hoyt said. “It’s just so good. Almost immediately, Lance made a difference. One of our patients almost never speaks, but he’s said several words to Lance. Patients who routinely just sit and do nothing, reach out to pet him, or hold him.”
But something really sweet that has happened, Hoyt said, is that Lance, on his own, seems to have sought out one of the terminally ill patients.
“Today he’s (the patient’s) having a bad day, and Lance has spent nearly the whole day at the end of his bed,” Hoyt said. “At one point the nurses said Lance was lying right beside the man with his chin resting on his shoulder.”
Lance, a Chihuahua terrier mix with sometimes pointy ears and a “calm sweet nature,” seems to have a “sixth sense” about who needs him, the floor nurses said.
“His nature seems to be perfect for what we need,” Hoyt said.
Meanwhile back at the animal center, Kelly is especially proud of the match.
“It’s a win/win situation,” Kelly said. “Lance got a great home. And he’s bringing some comfort and happiness to some people who really need it.”