Therapy dog Finley visits Silver Sky Assisted Living weekly with her owner Mark Rich, bringing joy and unconditional puppy love to everyone she encounters.  

Mark and his wife, Kristin, got Finley as a puppy with the intention of training her to become a therapy dog (Labradoodles typically have a great temperament for this work), and she is now certified by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Mark recently retired from a long career in the entertainment and hospitality industry, working as a musical director and running nightclubs and restaurants. He is now thrilled to have time to give back to the Las Vegas community by volunteering in a variety of roles including escorting Finley to multiple weekly engagements. Mark says, “She’s just phenomenal. . .  people just . . . light up when they see Finley.”

Training to become a therapy dog is a serious process, including tests of the dog’s ability to stay calm in challenging environments from a noisy Home Depot to a busy hospital. Since passing her tests and training requirements with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Finley regularly visits residents at Silver Sky and other assisted living facilities, cancer patients at Sunrise Hospital, and students at a school for children with autism. She also recently brought much-needed smiles to first responders, including 9-1-1 operators, during a special visit to Las Vegas Metro. Mark reflected on the instant positive effect Finley brought to that highly stressful environment: “They just relaxed. They didn’t think of anything except playing with her.”

Mark says Finley seems to look forward to her visits to Silver Sky as much as the residents do. “When I make this turn before I come into the parking lot, she knows” where she’s headed and gets excited to see the residents and staff she knows. Mark’s interest in bringing Finley to Silver Sky is rooted in his own family’s experiences. “I was very close to my grandparents, and my grandmother was in [an assisted living facility] in [New] Jersey. . . . I went there as a little kid with my mom and my dad. . . . Some people were bringing in their dogs and I just saw, and I said, ‘one day I’m going to be able to do this.’ And I retired about eight months ago and now I can.”

Silver Sky Activity Specialist Amy Rockwell shared what Finley’s visits mean for the Silver Sky community, ranging from the joy residents get from regularly interacting with a large, friendly pet to the way Finley brings a welcome moment of relaxation to all the staff members she greets. “Aside from just the sheer lovability factor, . . . everything’s a little lighter for a few minutes.”  

Mark and Finley

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Did you Know? Nevada HAND’s Silver Sky and Silver Sky at Deer Springs communities are Nevada’s only two affordable assisted living facilities dedicated to seniors.