Roger, a goldendoodle puppy, is training to be a service dog at Highland Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.

Highland Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center has a new four-legged friend roaming around their community.

Roger is a 10-week old black Goldendoodle. The goal for Roger is to become a full-time service dog at the Highland Healthcare and Rehab community. In the meantime, Roger lives part-time at Highland Healthcare and Rehab and spends his nights with Susan Riley, administrator.

“Once Roger learns basic skills, he will go off to obedience school for additional training,” Riley said.

After he completes the training, Roger will have the capability to stay at the facility full-time as a service dog for the residents. Roger is hypoallergenic and was purchased by Riley from a family in Oskaloosa. His father is a chocolate poodle and his mother is a golden retriever.

“When selecting a dog to work in a facility, temperament is the most important thing to look for,” Riley said.

Roger is already a hit with residents.

“It’s been great seeing how the residents enjoy interacting with him. Watching their eyes light up with a huge smile on their face has made Roger a priceless friend to all. They enjoy being outdoors with him. I have even seen them get on the ground and play with him. It’s safe to say everyone loves Roger,” said Tonya McNemee, activities director.

Riley has utilized service dogs in other facilities and raves of the benefits. If Roger can pass all his training and receive his credentials as a service dog he will be allowed to go to doctor appointments with residents.

“I felt it was important for the residents to be part of Roger’s training, so they are tasked with teaching Roger the basics: sit, stay, come, etc.,” Riley said.

Highland Healthcare and Rehab recently became part of the Promoting Excellent Alternatives in Kansas Nursing Homes program, commonly known as PEAK. Other initiatives within the program include expanded meal options for residents, as well as a greater accommodation for a resident’s dining and sleeping schedules.

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