Dog kept escaping shelter to sleep in nursing home. Staff adopted him.
In most rescue animal adoptions, the person who adopts picks their animal. In this instance, the adopted dog chose the new home by himself.
Scout was in the Antrim County Animal Shelter in Bellaire, Mich., when he wandered off into the Meadow Brook Medical Care Facility, a nursing facility across the street, late at night.
“He climbed the chain-linked kennel,” said Heather Belknap, the shelter director, who explained that Scout weighs around 65 pounds in the indoor space and could climb a fence to go outside. “There’s a six-foot vinyl fence surrounding dogs’ kennels. He leaped over the fence.”
The shelter’s staff were able to tell that Scout -the stray dog they took in and named, was being abused since his jaw was swollen with pellets, possibly due to a BB gun injury as well as other signs of a pet that had been neglected. He was easily agitated and was scared of strangers.
“Somebody abused him,” said Belknap. “When he ended up in the shelter, he ended up in the right place.”
Scout’s first break-in in a nursing home was in 2017. He jumped over two fences and across an open road before entering the nursing home lobby via an automatic revolving entrance and then parked himself on a brown couch.
He sat down, relaxed on the couch, and was asleep until a stunned nurse saw his body and called for the county sheriff in a panic.
The dog returned to the sanctuary, went through the exact sequence of events three nights over just two days, left the shelter, and then jumped onto the couch in the nursing home lobby.
“He was relentless in his pursuit to be here,” said Stephanie Elsey, a Meadow Brook Medical Care Facility clinical care coordinator. “He found his home.”
After the third visit was not invited, an employee could take Scout back home; however, he didn’t seem to be a good companion for their other pets. So, rather than return him to the shelter, the nursing home personnel met, and the group decided to adopt Scout.
Today, there is no explanation for why Scout was so attracted to this nursing facility.
“We just knew that he belonged here,” said Elsey. She added that staff members consulted with residents to determine allergies and ensured everyone was comfortable around him.
Meadow Brook staff members agreed to share the responsibility of caring for Scout -whose age isn’t yet known, but his vet believes he’s between 10 and 12. The care facility is split into various units; each team has about 20 residents, most of whom are seniors suffering from health problems. Since 2017, Scout has been living full-time as a pet resident at Glacier Hill.
While Scout is in charge of the building and often visits other areas of the facility, “he definitely knows that this place is his, the one he calls home. It’s where he is most at ease,” said Jenny Martinek, the household coordinator for the facility.
Since the beginning of time, Martinek has been Scout’s primary caregiver for the past six years. She makes sure the nursing home is equipped with his favorite food and goes to his vet appointments.
“If I’m here, he’s following me everywhere I go,” Martinek told me.
He sleeps in his private bed in the living space in Glacier Hill. However, he usually spends his evenings curled in bed with fellows, particularly those who give plenty of treats or appear to need more comfort.
“He senses that,” Martinek explained. Martinek explains how Scout can when the resident is unhappy or sick. “He believes that he’s protecting everyone. He’s always on guard.”
However, at times, Scout demands protection for him, she explained. In a storm like this, Scout will always snuggle with a neighbor he believes will ensure his safety.
Staff members at the nursing facility love Scout, and residents are pleased to have a puppy at their disposal. In February, the residents voted at an annual council meeting to award Scout “Resident of the Month.”
Pets that are resident at the residence are “not what you would expect to see in a nursing home,” Elsey explained she added. She also said that the pet can roam the facility and frequently looks into the residents’ rooms to monitor their daily activities. He also can tell whether a person is bored or prefers some space. He also can be found to be a reasonable observer of the boundaries.
Shirley Sawyer, 82, who has been living within Glacier Hill for about a year, said that the company of Scout makes dull days more enjoyable.
“He’s just a perfect dog,” she declared. “You can play with him and speak to him. He’ll be in the room and lay down next to you.”
She also said that “he doesn’t do a lot of barking.”
Before becoming Meadowbrook Medical Care Facility, resident Sawyer had two cats. She is happy to keep animals close by.
“It’s very nice to have a dog,” Sawyer stated, noting that she, along with the other residents at Glacier Hill — see Scout as their own. “It makes it more like home.”
While watching for the entire neighborhood, He seems a bit selective regarding the time he spends cuddling.
“He does have favorites,” Martinek explained, noting that the dog naturally prefers people who give him lots of food.
“He just kind of picks his people,” Tomczak said. Tomczak.
Scout is unrestricted. However, they are indiscriminate when helping sick people.
“He is quite observant. He is aware of when our residents aren’t doing well and are getting ready for be able to pass,” said Elsey. “He’ll go in and stay in their room with them and give them comfort.”
A dog paralyzed after a hit-and-run adoption was later taught to wag his tail.
In the spring of this year, the staff started a fundraiser named “Scout’s House Paws for the Pantry.” The group is raising funds and collecting items for the animal shelter, which helped to rescue Scout from the streets.
“We thought it was just going to be our staff donating,” Tomczak said. “Next thing we are aware of that the media took notice on it and it became everywhere. There were donations coming from everywhere around the world.”
Scout’s story was recently covered in The Detroit Free Press, which brought in more money.
“I’m so happy and thankful that they decided to do this,” said Belknap, the shelter director, who added that she was thrilled the nursing home staff embraced Scout 5 years ago. “It’s great that he’s over there, and gets to live his life and make other people happy.”
The joy is in both directions.
“It gave him a better quality of life as much as it gave the residents a better quality of life,” Elsey said.
After being abandoned and abused, Scout knows what it’s like to be truly loved. In the process, he offers the love of his life — and in abundance -to those who most need it.
“We couldn’t imagine this place without him,” Elsey told me.