Family Pet Becomes Pet for Maryland Nursing Home

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Jan 4th – 5:15am

CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) – After Ernest Holt’s wife died, family members worried that he faced yet another loss _ the companionship of the couple’s yellow Labrador retriever, Murphy.

But the nursing home where Holt lives came up with a solution: it is adopting Murphy as a facility dog, a pet for all the patients at Devlin Manor.

“It was really an answered prayer,” said Debbie Mellotte, Holt’s daughter. “I didn’t want to get rid of the dog.”

Before Anna Holt died Nov. 30, she had occasionally brought Murphy to visit her husband, Mellotte said. After she died, family members asked Devlin Manor Administrator David Mayfield for help in staving off a potential series of depressing events. Mayfield decided to try making the 6-year-old female dog part of Devlin Manor.

“Right now, Murphy’s in training to be a facility dog,” Mayfield told the Cumberland Times-News.

He said the arrangement must meet with regulators’ approval and that the dog needs to learn some new some behaviors.

“This is 60 people, plus staff. Obviously, it takes a little time to get used to being calm in that environment,” Mayfield said.

He said he hopes to make Murphy a permanent resident of the third floor, where Holt lives. But she’ll be everybody’s dog, with some residents sharing in her care.

Mayfield said Holt has seen more of Murphy in the last two weeks than in the past few months, and that he is always glad to see her.

Mellotte said Murphy spent most of her life around old people, learning at a young age to gently return a ball to the thrower’s lap so no bending was required.

She said Murphy is keeping Holt from growing depressed.

“My dad gets a smile on his face and is not dwelling on the fact that his wife had passed away,” Mellotte said.


Information from: Cumberland (Md.) Times-News,

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