Haven Hill resident Marlene Quaggan has a passenger on her walker, Dorothy the comfort cat. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Dorothy brings love and companionship to Okanagan centre

Dorothy “the comfort cat” has been bringing joy to Haven Hill for over a decade

Most days Dorothy can be found roaming the halls of Haven Hill Retirement Centre, stopping at various rooms along the way to spend time with residents.

Haven Hill has been home for Dorothy, “the comfort cat,” for 11 years, moving in as a kitten when the staff member who adopted her from the SPCA couldn’t keep her and brought her to work.

The tortoiseshell, now a senior herself (60 to 72 in cat years), has resided at Haven Hill longer than anyone else living there and has been there even longer than many employees.

Sheryn McLeod, a resident of Haven Hill, spends some fun time with Dorothy the centre’s longtime feline live in. (Mark Brett – Western News)

In addition to her rather unique characteristics, such as sitting and shaking a paw for a treat, hitching a ride on a resident’s walker or knocking the top off her automatic feeder, she’s been known to do something else very special.

Dorothy appears to sense when a resident was very ill and would lay by their sides for their final days and hours.

Evelyne Turner, who along with husband Harvey Baessler, volunteers at the centre, recalled one time in particular when the tortie did just that.

Dorothy twice visited the room of a woman who was near death and spent many nights with the woman and her daughter who was at her bedside.

“We talked to the daughter afterwards and she said she sat there and talked to the cat and it kept her emotions in check,” recalled Turner. “She said if it wasn’t for Dorothy she didn’t know how she would get through the night. She said the cat was a godsend for her during that time.”

The centre almost lost their beloved Dorothy, after a particularly close call one day on the Haven Hill grounds. It’s believed a raptor grabbed the cat and tried to fly away with her, but she was too heavy and was dropped.

Haven Hill volunteer Harvey Baessler gets a paw shake from Dorothy, a trick he taught her some time ago. (Mark Brett – Western News)

“She’s actually on a bit of diet right now, just in time for bathing suit season. We’ve loved her a little too much, she’s a larger lady. We put a note up the other day thanking people for watching her waistline.”

READ ALSO: Therapy dog retires from B.C. university

In the two years she has worked at the centre, Nelson has seen repeatedly how the friendly feline affects the lives of almost everyone she comes in contact with.

“For the residents, they have so many losses in their lives coming into a care home,” said Nelson. “I just think it gives them that feeling of normalcy, that feeling of being able to care for someone or something else. A lot of them miss that.

“Many residents also have their days of having care and maybe treatment, so it’s that time in the day when they can just watch her play and maybe sit and pet her. Having moments with her where it’s not so much about them, they can actually give to someone else and it helps with the loneliness.”

Resident Marlene Quaggan particularly enjoys the cat’s company.

“She’s all part of what happens around here and it’s not the first time I’ve fallen in love,” she said.

Residents are not the only ones who like having the cat around.

“For staff, it sometimes is a hard job and I think it just brings that little bit of relief in the day,” said Nelson. “Just to have a chuckle at whatever it is she is doing. It breaks up their day and it just brings a little bit of joy.”

And what does Dorothy get for the hours she puts in each day?

“She just has the best life,” said Nelson. “She likes to laze around and find the sunbeams and just be pretty much adored. That’s a rough life.”

READ ALSO: Could your dog help others?

While she wasn’t able to say it herself, Dorothy shared some of her thoughts about life at Haven Hill with Baessler, one of her very close human friends, the one who taught her the paw shake.

From Dorothy’s perspective he wrote:

“I am a ‘people cat,’ comforting the sad and the ill, loving everyone who lets me show love. Some residents need my special loving attention, so I curl in bed with them, assuring them of my love and concern and that they are not alone.

“I care.”


 

@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


 MarkBrett
Send Mark Brett an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

 

Visitors are asked to be on the lookout for Dorothy the resident cat at Haven Hill. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Just Posted

Nolan Foote named captain for Kelowna Rockets

Kelowna management made the decision Friday, Foote becomes the franchises 25th captain

West Kelowna Warriors look to continue streak in Silverbacks visit

The Warriors host Salmon Arm Friday night at Royal LePage Place

ALC prohibits land exemption status for three Westbank school sites

The decision means a new secondary school won’t be built along Webber Road

Start to finish: Okanagan Sun conclude regular season this weekend

The Sun visit the Westshore Rebels in the final game of the season on Sunday

RDCO to host Repair Café to help Kelowna residents fix household items

‘If you can carry it in under your arm, they’ll do their best to tackle the problem, with your help’

Kelowna pot shop looks to the future on Canada’s first cannibersary

Kelowna’s Hobo Recreational Cannabis store has been in operation since July 25, 2019

Valley First feeds a big Okanagan need

Feed the Valley succeeding in fighting hunger

Famous Forgeries displayed by Okanagan Artists of Canada

Okanagan Artists of Canada prepare for 75th anniversary with 75-year-old art

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: Election brings a colourful array of elections signs

Vernon man arrested with meat cleaver pleads not guilty to cop assault

Kyle Frances Larue allegedly assaulted RCMP with bear spray, meat cleaver

VIDEO: Meet your Kelowna-Lake Country candidates

All seven Kelowna-Lake Country candidates answer questions about themselves and their policy

VIDEO: Meet your Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola candidates

Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola candidates answer questions about themselves and their policy

On the campaign trail: North Okanagan photographer gets up close to MP candidates

Salmon Arm’s Kristal Burgess produced photo essays for fourShuswap-North Okanagan candidates

Morning Start: The whale known as Moby Dick

Your morning start for Friday, Oct. 18

Most Read