Puppy cuddles combat COVID isolation for seniors at Fairfax assisted living community – WDVM 25

by: Christy Matino

Posted: / Updated:

FAIRFAX, Va. (WDVM) — COVID-19 has been an isolating time for many, especially seniors — but Kirby, a tiny visitor at The Providence assisted living community, is changing that.

Sandy Steeves, memory care program director at The Providence, reports to work every morning, with the living community’s most frequent and furriest visitor in tow.

“When he comes in here, he comes racing down the hallway and just greets everybody,” said Steeves. “He loves it.”

Kirby visits the assisted living facility every day, greeting and gathering cuddles from community residents.

“He knows everybody,” said Steeves. “They say come on over and he hops up on their lap.”

Steeves adopted Kirby in the midst of the pandemic when she saw the toll isolation took on the residents.

“Just having some kind of contact with an animal or a person just enriches their lives, because they were so isolated,” said Steeves. “Isolation isn’t good for anybody.”

The residents at the community say they love Kirby as much as he loves them.

“He’s such a darling. He just jumps on the couch, doesn’t matter who you are,” said Susan, a resident at The Providence.

Kirby is also inspiring additional activities that further Steeves’ goal to create purpose in the daily lives of the people she cares for.

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“Every month, we take on a service project,” said Steeves. “Our first one was making home made dog biscuits and we gave them to Homeless Animal Rescue Team (HART). It gives them a sense of purpose, and everybody needs a sense of purpose to get up every day.”

Kirby has also found his purpose, bringing love and smooches to his work family.

“He loves people. When I don’t bring him to work, he barks at the door and he gets mad. He loves the attention,” said Steeves.