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Pet Therapy Spotlight

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When Mary Ann Sharp speaks, you can tell she grew up somewhere outside of Western North Carolina. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she held onto the rich accent of her childhood, before her family moved to Florida when she was thirteen. Mary Ann lived most of her life in Florida and moved to the Vanderbilt Apartments in downtown Asheville three years ago to be closer to her family – her daughter and granddaughter, who live nearby. She chose to live downtown because she enjoys the excitement, arts, culture, and music that comes with living in a city. When the world shut down due to a global pandemic, Mary Ann needed to find other ways to keep herself busy.

Mary Ann is one of those people who will smile even when she is experiencing pain. Even though she can be unsteady on her feet and uses a rolling walker, she enjoys going outside for sunshine and a nice stroll up and down the sidewalk. Mary Ann likes to cook and bake, meet new people (from a distance), and play games with friends who are in her small circle of trust. She likes listening to live music and doing arts and crafts.

Mary Ann participates in every event sponsored by the Service Coordinator at the Vanderbilt Apartments. When Service Coordination brought pet therapy into the building, Mary Ann got to meet Cooki, an adorable and compassionate dog. “I love animals,” she explains, “little Cooki and I… we had an instant connection.” Cooki is a certified therapy dog owned by Lori Meckler and they have been coming to the Vanderbilt Apartments for several months during the pandemic. Residents sign up for a one-on-one appointment for pet therapy, to play, groom, and hold a dog. The dogs enjoy it also because they get extra treats. Disease control precautions are put into place to keep the residents and dog handlers safely engaged. “It makes a difference,” says Mary Ann, “and the animals have an unconditional love – something we all need in this time of crisis.”

By: Vance Goodman, Services Coordinator: Vanderbilt Apts.

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