Over the weekend, my wife and I ventured into the Allegheny Mountains to the Omni Bedford Springs Resort. I learned that the resort was dog-friendly. Since Skyy and I have been visiting folks in the VA and ManorCare for just over a year, I felt that a trip away from Syrah and home would be a perfect anniversary gift for the good boy.
We headed out on a perfect day for late March in the mountains. Upon arrival at the resort, the sun was out, and the temperature was around 65 degrees. We exited the car, handed the keys to the valet and stepped into the lobby with Skyy charging forward leading the way. Since Skyy automatically assumes that everyone wants to show him affection, he did his best to woo all people around him as we were taking care of the check-in registration.
The resort had a special section reserved for dog owners with quick access to an outdoor area. The rooms were spectacularly clean! Once we had unpacked, we decided to head out and explore the grounds.
The rules were simple for us. Skyy is able to go anywhere in the resort except for restaurants. We headed out to explore the pet area and then walked along a path parallel to the resort. We walked inside the resort and found where the restaurants are located and then headed back outside to explore.
We discovered there are many hiking and biking trails through the forested mountains surrounding the resort. We decided to start following the paths to get some photos. The following are some of the cute (and funny) pictures we were able to capture.
We then headed back to the resort and sat down by the fire pit, which by that time had a nice bonfire going. At this point, my wife and I were relaxing when people started to approach us and asked to pet Skyy. The social butterfly loved every second of the attention that he was getting. Of course, I had a tennis ball handy, and kids and adults alike were throwing the ball for Skyy and giving him commands to do tricks.
It is incredible to me how much easier it is for people to introduce themselves with the aid of a furry companion. We were able to meet some nice people from several states, all of which we may not have met had it not been for Skyy.
All of the staff at the resort were very accommodating to Skyy and to us. We had a wonderful, restful day in near 70-degree temperatures and then drove home in the snow! Ahhh…Pennsylvania weather in the spring!
…and God sent Skyy to our family to bring us great joy. Our family, in turn, are sharing that joy. Skyy, a 2-year-old border collie was destined to do great things. He has beautiful soft fur, bearing the traditional black and white markings of his breed and warm, soft, brown eyes that can melt the hardest of hearts.
Early on, he showed signs of being extra special. At 8 weeks old, he began his obedience classes. At 8 months old, he began dual classes of obedience and therapy dog training. Excelling at all tests and challenges sent his way, Skyy passed his Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog International tests with flying colors. He is now fully certified, allowing him access to various facilities, including the VA Medical Center, where he visits each Saturday to the delight and anticipation of what has become his best buddies.
The residents in the VA, who gave much in service to their country, ask for so little—companionship. The men and women who served so selflessly just want someone to visit them, which Skyy is very happy to do. Along with his family members, Skyy is delighted to spend a few hours visiting and interacting with the patients, residents and staff. With a happily wagging tail and a very enthusiastic personality, Skyy makes his rounds to an ever-growing list of must-visits.
According to the facility’s volunteer coordinator and our first-hand accounts, Skyy has made a visible (and remarkable) difference. Patients who are withdrawn and quiet, openly talk to Skyy and share things with him they don’t share with others. They find comfort and tranquility in petting him. He listens without judgment and offers calming support, often bringing the peace the patients need and can’t find through other outlets. His presence seems to bring out what the patients often keep in—things they need or that are bothering them. Thanks to Skyy, a patient who was quiet during group sessions is now talking during them about their wonderful visitor. Some veterans who felt they had nothing to smile about, openly grin when they see Skyy. Other patients who were not initially happy to have Skyy visit, now can’t resist his kisses and they look forward to him sitting on their lap. One patient even provides Skyy with his own pillow on the bed so they can watch TV together in comfort. When Skyy leaves, they give each other high fives.
The best part of Skyy’s story? It’s just beginning! Skyy has so many more adventures to go on and much more love and happiness to share. Skyy truly is a dog who makes a difference.