The Responsible Urbanites For Fido (RUFF) formed three years ago when the dog ownership population was really growing and there was a need to bring harmony between dog owners and non dog owners. In the three years following, RUFF has grown and has been working to bring an official dog park to the North End. Although so many people know RUFF for their dog park efforts, RUFF was always built to be a community and neighborhood group, to add benefit to the North End. Recently RUFF has begun a really special program and are looking to expand – RUFF’s companion canine program launched with an inquiry from a neighbor whose father was homebound and loved dogs.
Gary Fleming reached out to RUFF in early March about his father, Arthur. Arthur is a vibrant, 87 year old, who loves dogs and the Red Sox! He had owned many dogs and cats before he moved to the North End. He is particularly fond of Labradors, as he had a few very special ones in his lifetime. Arthur lives on his own but is homebound unless aided by his family. Like many seniors, getting around gets more difficult, this can often lead to stress, depression, loneliness and isolation. To help prevent those feelings having a canine companion is an easy, fun and free solution.
RUFF has deployed three happy, funny and engaging members to bring Arthur companionship, laughter and happiness! Arthur started having weekly visits with: Hooper – a well behaved, sweet eyed, young yellow lab. Natalie –a mature, obedient and playful Lab-x; who if you look very closely has a black strip down her back, but the rest is brown and gets lighter till it turns to brindle. And Sage – a handsome, trick performing, adoring gray standard poodle completes the visiting trio. All of whom are so excited for their visits with Arthur, as they know the treats will be in abundance and the rubs a plenty!
One afternoon visit with Sage and Arthur you could tell they were old buds. Sage bouncing into Arthur’s apartment – he is quickly instructed to sit and wait so Arthur can get his bearings! Sage nuzzles close to Arthur for some scratches and a soft pat. They settle in for some cookies and tricks – more cookies than tricks… Sage explores and pokes around as Arthur shares stories of his dogs with Sage’s owner, Maria. Soon Sage has settled in and plops down for a snooze at Arthur’s feet. Arthur is excited to share his stories and to have some time with Sage. Maria and Gary, Arthur’s son, coordinate on when they will have time to visit next so Arthur has his dog visit to look forward to.
Arthur receives visits with the three dogs weekly when time allows. Each visit is about an hour long. RUFF hopes to continue to give Arthur a few visits a week and add new dogs to his schedule as interest grows. Beyond the numerous health benefits of dog visits they are one of the most simple, yet effective, ways to spread happiness and laughter. It allows for strangers to meet and become true neighbors and embodies what the community of the North End truly is – caring.
RUFF wanted to share this story in hopes of encouraging other families with seniors to reach out for a canine companion. RUFF has almost a dozen members who are interested in partaking in this program, many who own smaller dogs. Arthur was a fan of larger dogs, as that is what he had his whole life. If you have a family member, friend or you yourself would like to be a part of this canine companion program please reach out to RUFF. INFO@RUFFBoston.org, Facebook at – RUFF North End Dog or USPS – RUFF, 71 Prince Street, Suite 58.
Look for these handsome dogs on your next walk, they are some of the best neighbors in the North End!