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Feb. 24, 2011
By Lindsey Steele, media relations assistant
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Casey Fraites, a hall director in South Complex at Northwest Missouri State University, and her dog, Hollie, are bringing smiles to the faces of Alzheimer's patients in Maryville thanks to the canine's unique appearance and friendly nature.
"Hollie's best feature is her remarkable friendliness and her unique face," Fraites said. "Her under bite is substantial. She gives the students a positive distraction from studying, and she allows people to free their minds and to connect with animals as well as other people."
Hollie, a 5-year-old pug-schnauzer mix Fraites rescued three years ago, often greets students with Fraites at the South Complex front desk. A Northwest policy allows hall directors to live with pets.
"Students relax and just have a good time when Hollie is running around in the hallways," said Erin Funk, a Northwest student who lives in South Complex. "She makes everyone laugh and smile. Everyone enjoys playing with her because she is one of the very few dogs on campus."
Fraites' four-legged friend has a similar impact when the pair visits nursing homes in Maryville.
"Hollie certainly increases engagement levels of local Alzheimer's patients," she said. "Hollie gives the elderly something to look forward to and enjoy."
Fraites found Hollie abandoned and pregnant on the side of a road in Kentucky. Fraites, who has always had a soft spot for shelter dogs and whose mother had two certified therapy dogs in their Ohio home, could not help but intervene.
When Fraites came to Northwest, a co-worker told her about the University's degree in therapeutic recreation. After a little research, she discovered that pet therapy is a key focus in the program, and therefore Hollie plays a prominent role in Fraites' academic endeavors.
Fraites will graduate from Northwest in April with a master's in therapeutic recreation and recently completed an internship at the New Nodaway Humane Society in Maryville. During this time, she started the Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound Program aimed at getting the community involved in the Humane Society and increasing the number of individuals who walk dogs on a frequent basis.
"Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound benefits the volunteers by promoting a healthy lifestyle, and it gets the animals out of their kennels," Fraites said. "The program is free, and anyone is welcome to join."
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900
Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468