'Baby' welcomed to Maple Crest Manor

‘Baby’ welcomed to Maple Crest Manor

Becky Walz
News editor


It was an unusual baby shower at Maple Crest Manor in Fayette on Tuesday, Dec. 3, complete with dog bone sugar cookies, dog treats and yes, Baby, a 5-year-old yellow Lab/golden retriever mix that is free to wander through the halls.

Tuesday was Baby’s first day at the facility, thanks to the innovative thinking of Angie Vagts, the admissions and community relations coordinator.

Vagts said her brother attends Iowa State University, and she had heard about ISU’s program training dogs as therapeutic tools, but there were none available. After searching for other programs, Vagts heard about a similar program at Kirkwood Community College from a family friend in the vet tech program.

“We were planning to purchase Baby from the program, but when they found out that she would be coming to a nursing home where she would get more than enough love, they decided to donate her to Maple Crest,” said the avid animal lover.

Baby had originally been a rescue dog in Des Moines before being sent to Kirkwood for two semesters. She is considered to be a therapy and communications dog. While she is not trained to alert others in case of seizures or other ailments, Baby will be available for the elder generation to pet and reminisce about their own pets.

“She will also be utilized in the therapy room for patients to throw a ball and she will retrieve it. The throwing of the ball will help increase their range of motion,” said Vagts.

In preparation for Baby’s arrival, many residents at Maple Crest Manor had been purchasing doggie treats in hopes of enticing man’s best friend into their rooms regularly. Numerous residents had already discussed her sleeping arrangements in their rooms, although Baby has a room all to herself in one of the sitting rooms, complete with a kennel, her food and water dishes, and toys.

Her calm demeanor resonates as she doesn’t beg for food or jump up for attention. In fact, the staff has yet to hear her bark.

As Baby gets accustomed to the residents, Vagts hopes walks will not require a leash, thus allowing the assisted-living residents to take her for short walks.

“With a leash, they could get hurt if she pulled away too fast,” she noted.

During the “Baby” shower, the yellow Lab/golden retriever mix frequently grabbed a quick pat on the head and heard praise like, “Aren’t you sweet?” from both residents and staff.

Although meant for the residents, Baby may be one of the best therapies for everyone at Maple Crest Manor.

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