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Therapy dog becomes Tuesday tradition for Southern Indiana nursing home

Rudy and his mom, Lori, started their service about seven years ago. She wanted a distraction after overcoming cancer, and the rest is history.

NEW ALBANY, Ind. — Forget the dog days of summer, it's a weekly tradition for a New Albany nursing home. Rudy the therapy dog is a Tuesday tradition at Green Valley Care Center and makes dozens of stops every time. 

"We probably see at least 50 people,” Rudy’s mom Lori Jones said. "I'm Rudy's chauffeur. He's the rockstar."

The pair makes pit stops all over the center. They'll go everywhere from physical therapy to memory care to individual rooms. Rudy is always happy to show off his tricks and lend a hand, or paw, for a solid shake. He's notorious for his kisses, and Lori said he loves to love.

"He seems to know who needs him, and that's what's so cool about him,” Lori said.

Rudy and Lori started their service about seven years ago. She wanted a distraction after overcoming cancer, and the rest is history.

"I thought I needed something for distraction, and that's when I thought never had a dog, why not try a dog. So, that's why we did it, and it was the best distraction in the world,” Lori said. "He's the first dog I've ever had in my whole life, and I didn't know what you did with a dog. So, we started going to training, and after he went through beginning, intermediate and advanced, the trainer said he had the temperament if I had the time to be a therapy dog, and I didn't know what that was."

Lori is a retired teacher, so the training quickly became second nature.

"It's called the Canine Good Citizen Test, and it's kind of like the bar exam for dogs,” Lori said. "It's just brought something to my life that couldn't be replaced. I love it.”

Rudy works with the American Red Cross of Clark County, and there are about 40 therapy dogs in the program. They also visit children's hospitals and camps for kids with cancer. Rudy has also done disaster relief, and Lori said it’s been incredible to watch the impact he had everywhere he goes.

"It's the power of a dog. It's just unbelievable,” Lori said.

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