About NJ Veteran Journal:
The New Jersey Veteran Journal is an official publication of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and is intended to serve New Jersey's veterans, their families, friends and concerned individuals and groups. All correspondence should be sent to:
Veteran Journal Editor, NJDMAVA/PA, PO Box 340,
Trenton, NJ 08625-0340
APACHE BONDS WITH RESIDENTSStory and photo by Tech. Sgt. Barb Harbison
Say “Apache” at Vineland Veterans Home and the residents aren’t listening for the “whup, whup” sound or looking out the windows for a helicopter landing nearby.
Instead they will be listening for the “ruff, ruff” bark or watching for a large yellow Lab marching down the home’s hallways.
Apache is the Labrador Retriever who has inhabited Vineland for more than a year, making the residents light up as Lisa Williams, Supervisor of Recreation, takes him on his rounds.
Williams interviewed residents and many mentioned how they were missing their pets. She did research on pets, breeds and thought that a dog seemed to be the best fi t with a mostly male population.
“I have worked as director of activities for 20 years around the county,” said Williams, “but this is the fi rst time I have had a dog at the home for the residents. The administration really supported it when I brought up the idea.
” The dog, donated by Pampered Pup Kennel of Millville, was named Apache by the residents after the military helicopter. Volunteers help with the vet bills and at Christmas he even got gifts from the volunteers.
Williams made sure Apache had training. Ted D’Onofi o from Ted’s Pet Country in Vineland was honored during the Vineland Homes April volunteer luncheon for the time and energy he had donated in training Apache.
“Once Apache knew what was expected of him, he did well in training,” said D’Onofi o, who has been training dogs for 17 years. He is working with Williams preparing Apache for his certifi cation as a Canine Good Citizen, the fi rst step on Apache’s way to becoming a Certifi ed Therapy Dog.
Williams said age and training has brought some maturity to Apache. “We can see him bonding with many of the residents,” she said. “In particular, I am amazed to see him with one of our frail women who is on hospice. It is like he knows that he has to be especially gentle; he just sits and puts his chin on her lap.”
Fay Novack of the Liberty Square Residents Council was happy to see Apache walking alongside Williams recently. He laid his head in her lap as she sat in her wheelchair. She patted him and smiled. “This is perfect,” she said.
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