Say hello to Calder Woods’ Volunteer of the Year, Dr. Hank.
Dr. Hank is a trained therapy dog who visits the Beaumont senior living community every Friday morning, along with his owner David Hornack.
These special visits are especially beneficial for residents, as regular interactions with animals improve health and help fight depression. Hank roams the halls – with Hornack not far behind – stopping in to see friends living in health care and spending time with residents’ pets who live at the community.
“Everyone loves when Hank comes to visit us,” said David Long, director of marketing at Calder Woods. “The residents look forward to his visits as he creates joy and happiness and never fails to leave everyone with a smile on their face.
He has an incredibly calming influence and seems to know just what each person needs. Some might call him a ‘people whisperer.’ These visits are particularly meaningful for residents and team members who are going through a challenging time.”
A few years ago, Hornack found Hank wandering the streets and decided to take him home. The simple act changed Hornack’s life once he realized there was something special about his new four-legged friend. After passing all of their exams and becoming certified as a therapy animal team, Hornack and Hank began making their rounds to local senior living communities.
In many ways, this volunteer work stemmed from Hornack’s promise to use his own retirement to provide others the opportunity to connect with animals. Over time the pair’s bond has grown, allowing them to become a well-oiled team as they work together to bring happiness to others.
“I knew from the day I found him that Hank was something exceptional,” said Hornack. “Pet therapy is truly an amazing gift, as animals can provide the unconditional love and support we often need. For me personally, Hank has been an incredible emotional support and has helped with my own anxiety. Knowing how he has been there for me reminds me how special he is and what he can do for others.”
“Seeing our residents interact with Hank each week is something amazing,” said Ben Mazzara, executive director at Calder Woods. “When Hank comes to visit he leaves all of us feeling happy and comforted by his presence. As a pet-friendly community, we understand the importance of the relationship between animals and humans and want all of our residents to experience the joy that comes from interacting with or being around animals.”