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Mork & Mindy find happiness together at local rehab facility

February 6, 2012

Enjoying a visit in an outdoor courtyard at Southern Trace Therapy are, from left, Ethel Hutto, Mindy the beagle, and Marion Mork. The three are roommates at the Bryant facility, where Mork's daughter is assistant director of nursing. Photo by Lynda Hollenbeck

Mindy is a dog with a mission.
The young beagle is the special canine resident of Southern Trace Rehabilitation in Bryant, where she not only brings joy to her owner but to other residents who share her routine and her life.
Once lost or abandoned, Mindy was rescued by Marion Mork's grandson.
That was about three years ago, said Mork, who has been a resident of the Bryant rehab facility for the past several months.
"My grandson was going to find a home for Mindy, but I decided that I wanted her, so she first came to live with me," she said.
That arrangement worked for a while, but then Mork developed some health problems and Mindy relocated to Southern Trace, where Mork's daughter, Robin Wilson, serves as assistant director of nursing.
As fate would have it, Mork eventually came to be a resident of the facility and has been reunited with Mindy on a daily, permanent basis.
And that arrangement has been a blessing for everyone, according to Wilson.
"Mindy goes from room to room visiting the residents and most of them love her," she said. "She knows the rooms where she's not really welcome, so she just doesn't go there. But the others want her and even have disagreements over whose room she'll visit next."
Mork, now 85, said she has always had dogs. When Mindy first came to live with her, her previous dog had just died.
"We selected the same Mindy since my name is Mork and I knew about the TV show 'Mork & Mindy,'" she said.
At the long-term care facility, Mindy's official sleeping quarters are located in a corner of Mork's room, but she often joins her owner on her bed, Mork said.
"That dog is like my own child," she said.
"We love being together here," she added.
Ethel Hutto, Mork's roommate, also is a big fan of Mindy's, saying she "switched rooms just so I could be with her."
Wilson confirmed that fact, noting that Hutto is as fond of Mindy as Mork.
"When the staff see the three of them walking down the hall together, they call them 'the golden girls,'" she said.
Wilson also noted that Mindy has a particularly positive influence on the residents with serious behavioral issues.
"There's no agitation when she visits them in their unit," Wilson said. "They calm down and people who rarely talk will do so."
The only real problem that Mindy has encountered is "too many treats," Wilson noted.
"Everyone wants to give her something, and she's figured out when dietary brings the trays for administration and for particular staff people," she said. "She'll wait in that area until someone gives her something.
"She has a regular route," she added.
Mindy had to be away from the facility for about two weeks when she developed a disk problem that required surgery.
"They all missed her and kept asking 'where's Mindy' and 'when is she coming back,'" Wilson said. "She couldn't jump for a while, but she's doing fine now."
Though the attention and treats for Mindy are abundant, Wilson said what the dog does for the residents far surpasses what they give her.
"She gives more than she gets," she said.
"She's a fantastic therapy dog," Wilson said. "She's never been trained for that; she's just that way naturally.
If Wilson were in charge, every long-term care facility would have a therapy animal.
"You just have to see what a difference it makes in the residents," she said. "They light up when they see her.
"She loves people and she accepts them no matter what their condition."

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