Lily Maija Finn is one of the newest residents of Finlandia nursing home in Sudbury, Ont., but she's a bit different from the others who live there.
Lily is a six month old goldendoodle, which is a mix between a golden retriever and a poodle. She lives permanently at Finlandia.
Administrator Angela Harvey says Lily came to live there in October 2016.
The dog is part of the enhanced care program at Finlandia. That program supports seniors with dementia and other cognitive issues with enhanced staffing, services and programs.
Harvey says they chose the goldendoodle breed because they are hypo-allergenic and have a good temperament.
Residents beam when they see Lily
Many of the residents light up when they see the dog.
"Seniors are able to remember when they used to have puppies, it brings back a lot of memories of their puppies, we hear stories about," says Harvey.
She tells the story of one resident with far-advanced Alzheimer disease, who doesn't speak often.
"After a couple of weeks of having [Lily] she said to me, 'Do you know we have a puppy?' It was heart-touching."
The benefits of pet therapy are well known. Research points to animals helping to calm individuals. They can also help with healing or decreasing pain symptoms, and they provide companionship.
Harvey says some of their residents may be lonely and Lily is a friendly face that loves everyone.
Because Lily is still a puppy, Harvey says she gets really excited, so Finlandia staff has had to limit her encounters with some of the residents — at least until she calms down.
Lily is also enrolled in dog obedience school. Harvey says it's difficult to get the residents and staff to consistently follow the puppy tips and rules though.
Finlandia has used other pet therapy animals in the past and Harvey says staff sometimes bring in their own pets to the facility.
"She is part of our family. She is a wonderful addition, not only to the staff we've noticed, but to families, to visitors to residents. Everybody absolutely loves her."