An old man was confined to his room in a nursing home because he claimed he was "too tired, too sick" to move around.
Working through an experimental program, therapists brought a peppy, licking, loving, tail-wagging fox terrier dog into the old man's life.
"You brought me a dog," the man said as his face lit up. He played with the dog and said, proudly: He likes me." Indeed, the dog showered the man with attention as if they'd been friends for years.
Within two weeks, the old man and his dog were walking the grounds. It was the first time the man had been outside on his own in two years.
The "pet therapy" worked. In effect, the dog led the man out into the world again.
At first, staff people at the nursing home were against having pets on the premises. But Dr. Samuel Corson, professor of psychiatry and biophysics at Ohio State University, persuaded the home's administrators that the pet therapy project might help elderly residents and simplify work for the staff.
"It worked better than we had hoped," Corson says, explaining that several elderly people who now care for their own pets require fewer drugs, are much easier to deal with and are much, much happier.
Corson warns that dogs should be carefully matched to their new owners. Outgoing, loving dogs make ideal therapy companions for nursing home residents. But any dog that wants to please people can do the trick. Nervous or overly excitable dogs should be avoided.
Corson says animals are being used in several projects to "bring elderly and other psychologically shut-in people out of their shells and into the world." In England, one project places parrots and other birds in the homes of elderly shut-ins. At Lima (Ohio) State Hospital, gerbels, rabbits and other small animals are being used to get patients to communicate and take notice of their surroundings.
"You have to be careful not to let a pet become a substitute for human contact," Corson says, explaining that the ideal situation is where a dog "introduces" an older person to neighbor's children and othr dog lovers as a sort of conversation piece.
Dogs are also being used to provide "ears" for elderly people who are profoundly deaf and live alone. These "hearing ear dogs" work much in the manner as seeing eye dogs. The "ear" dogs can get their owner's attention when the doorbell rings, when the telephone-teletype bell rings, when an alarm clock goes off or when a smoke alarm sounds. The dogs can also let their masters know when a wallet or package drops and when their attention is needed in the kitchen (tea kettle whistle or oven clock).
The "hearing ear" program is being conducted by the American Humane Association from its national headquarters at 5351 South Rosylyn St. Englewood, Colo. 80110. Program director Robert White says, "Fourteen dogs and cats are put to death every year because they're unwanted . . . We're trying to let some of these pets lead useful lives for people who really need them."
It takes up four months and $1,500 to train each "ear" dog. If any organization administrators who deal with the elderly would like more information, they can write to AHA headquarters.
Q. How about a column on the virtues or vices of the officially designated factory service shops for brand-name appliances"
A. There are three types of service:
1) Factory service. The manufacturer has its own facilities, trucks and employes.
2) Authorized service. The manufacturer makes a service contract with an independent shop or a dealer.
3) Independent service. Usually found in small towns, this service is not authorized but is often good.
Manufacturers say they are trying to get the yellow page people to check on advertising claims for "factory" or "authorized" service. Some have no direct relationship with the manufacturer; authorized dealers are supposedly checked for their capability and the necessary equipment and training. Most brands are careful in selecting and monitoring authorized service outlets. But some brands will sign on anybody - competent or not.
Buy your product from a dealer or a store that backs its sales with its own "customer satisfaction guarantee." It makes little difference whether the store does its own reparis or sends out - as long as it stands behind each sale.
Q. I bought a mobile home with a large front porch. The carpeting on the porch is quite faded. Is there anything I can use to change the color of the carpet?
A. Aids International, which represents the carpet cleaning industry, says you probably have a carpet that wasn't designed to be used outdoors. Most indoor-outdoor carpeting today doesn't fade much, if at all.
There's nothing much you can do to improve the carpet's color. Sprays and dips are difficult to use and aren't really satisfactory. You'd walk the color off in no time. Having your carpet dyed by professionals is way too costly. Only a few companies can do it.
Your best bet is to invest in new, outdoor carpeting that's specially made to resist fading. A good grade outdoor carpet should last for years without much problem.
Q. Is there anything that will remove spilled vegetable-oil stains and stickness from wood?
A. The National Paint and Coating Association says liquid detergent might do it. If not, try a cleaner in the Top Job, Mr. Clean or Janitor-in-a-Drum category.