BANGS — “Sweet baby.”
That term of endearment was heard multiple times throughout the Bangs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Friday afternoon as Killa — the big, lovable Staffordshire terrier therapy dog — and his human were the big hit of a Christmas party.
For the past six years, the gentle, inquisitive Killa and United Supermarkets employee Donnetta Alexander have visited nursing homes and other facilities, spreading delight, charm and plenty of love.
While they make those visits throughout the year, the duo makes it a point to visit several facilities during the Christmas season including the Bangs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
At the Bangs facility, Alexander and several friends set up trays of food and snacks, provided by some of Killa’s and Alexander’s Facebook followers. The Winners Circle donated blankets and no-slip socks for the residents.
“Killa loves this,” Alexander said. “He loves meeting people. He loves going around and I enjoy it too. I’m originally from Dallas. I can’t give back to my community in Dallas so I’m giving back to Brown County’s community.
“For six years, I look forward to this so I’m already planning for next year.”
A Staffordshire terrier is a cross between a pit pull and a boxer, Alexander said.
Killa, who will be 9 years old on Valentine’s Day —“that’s why he’s so special,” Alexander said — has been with Alexander since he was 6 weeks old. Alexander said she bought the dog from a girl selling puppies from a crate.
“I thought the girl was selling Girl Scout cookies but when I went to the parking lot it was a crate full of puppies,” Alexander said. “And I’ve always been afraid of this breed. However I saw one dog that was hiding behind all the others, so I pulled him out by the tail, and when I looked at that face I fell in love.
“I paid $50 for this dog and that’s the best $50 I have ever invested.”
When Killa was a puppy, he’d bark at everything — a leaf, his own shadow, Alexander said in an earlier interview. “Calm down, Killa,” Alexander would playfully scold. And that became his name. Killa is certified as a therapy dog through the pet therapy program of an Austin-based organization called Divine Canines.
“We just go wherever people will accept us,” Alexander said as Killa exchanged greetings with residents at the Bangs facility.
Hearing another “sweet baby” directed at Killa, Alexander replied, “Thank you. I love him so much.”
“We love Killa, activity director Debbie Dean said. “Killa is a hit. The residents love him.”
Noting the emphasis on children during Christmas, Alexander said she wants to make sure people remember the nursing home residents.
“We’re going to continue to do it as long as (Killa) has breath in his body,” Alexander said.