Animals Famous and Infamous Bring Joy to Elders at Green Hill


March 3, 2016 West Orange, New Jersey; Green Hill has had a long history of pet therapy programs with elders. There are resident animals that make up the Green Hill family, including cats, rabbits and birds, as well as dog pet visitors from staffers families. Community Life Assistant Karen Gyetvay’s therapy dog, visits elders on a weekly basis.

Reviewing 25 studies on the effects of pets on elderly people in nursing homes… (it was) found that residents exposed to pets consistently smiled more and became measurably more alert than those who did not encounter animals.  …Animals normalize the environment, and allow people to be more appropriate, more at ease. In the Presence of Animals (Sarah Burke, U.S. News & World Report, Feb ’92)

On Friday, Feb 26th elders enjoyed a special visit with Daniel the Beagle and Shelby the Pit bull. Joe Dwyer rescued both Daniel (The Miracle Dog) Beagle and Shelby along with numerous other animals. Joe is a motivational speaker who tells the inspirational story of Daniel’s survival of an attempt to ‘put him down’ at an Alabama animal pound and his eventual adoption by Joe’s family.  The joyful tale, with a happy ending, was a highlight of the day’s pet therapy session for residents and staff of Green Hill. To learn more about Daniel visit,

For elderly pet owners, who often live alone or in group facilities, pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity and help them learn. Psychologist Penny B. Donnenfeld…… said “I’ve seen those with memory loss interact and access memories from long ago.. Having a pet helps the senior focus on something other than physical problems and negative preoccupations about loss or aging.”

The Green Hill elders in the Legacy Building and the The Villas at Green Hills certainly enjoy their animal visitors. The animals bring laughter, love, physical and emotional stimulation, and fun to have around.

Click here to view photos from the event.