At the tender age of 14, Asha “Bear” has quickly risen in the ranks at St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care. The good-natured Australian Shepherd/Irish Setter mix has such a knack for making people happy, she’s known as the Vice President of Morale.
A fixture at the Stein Campus, Asha arrives bright and early every morning with her owner, Casey Rozanski, Vice President of Fund Development and Marketing. Kids and adult clients alike know the friendly canine by name, and she’s perfectly at home amid wheelchairs and strollers.
Asha began coming to St. Ann Center four years ago, when she was diagnosed with severe separation anxiety. “I’d come home and find my apartment in shambles,” Casey says, explaining how distressed her pup would become when she was left alone. “Sr. Edna said, ‘Why don’t you bring her here?’” And the rest is tail-wagging history.
The sociable pooch is a celebrity in Shepherd House, where she provides comfort and canine companionship to clients dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. She also has an avid fan club among the adults on the Veranda and in Senior Wellness, who often save her tasty tidbits from their lunch.
“She loves stretching out in the middle of the hall so no one can walk by without giving her attention,” Casey says. At least once a week, the childcare kids visit the Administration hallway looking for a chance to pet her. It’s not uncommon for eight of them to crowd around the mellow dog, giggling as she licks their faces. “Since kids are on her level, they’re easy targets,” Casey adds.
St. Ann Center’s president is also on Asha’s list of favorite people. Sr. Edna keeps a supply of treats from a local natural pet food store in her office. Even folks with a fear of dogs have overcome their phobia after getting to know this gentle animal.
“Having Asha here is beneficial for everyone,” Casey says. “She lifts our spirits—and she gets plenty of affection. Once I counted four belly rubs she received in under 30 minutes. What other dog can say that?”
Asha’s age-inspiration is a feature story as part of the center’s #DonateYourAge campaign which shows the value of every age! Join the campaign now with your own age-inspired gift.