Weighing in at less than 5 pounds, Alice might have been small, but the pint-sized poodle made a huge impact on the Chippewa Valley, where she visited assisted-living facilities and nursing homes for years through the Bob’s House for Dogs’ Canine Company program.
Travis and Amy Quella adopted the 4-year-old teacup poodle in 2010, and they said goodbye to her on Jan. 16, 2023.
Sadly, it was time, but I’m grateful to the Quellas for sharing this truly special dog with the hundreds of residents she visited through Canine Company and the volunteers like me who were along for the ride.
Because of her small size and sweet disposition, Alice was in high demand at every facility she visited. Residents and staff looked forward to seeing her outfits and, more importantly, getting to hold and cuddle her while petting her black fur.
Alice never seemed to tire of going room to room or getting passed from lap to lap – even if someone squeezed her a little too tight. Her occasional antics, like rolling around on the floor to shed a dress or a sweater, made residents laugh, but sometimes, they cried as their turn with her ended. But, not all tears were bad.
During a visit to an Eau Claire nursing home many years ago, staff made sure we stopped in the room of a resident who loved Alice’s visits. The lady had been upset that evening, but by the time we had arrived, she was sleeping. Before we could leave, Alice started squirming in my arms, so I set her down on the foot of the bed. The little dog then gently approached the woman, laid down and nuzzled her tear-stained cheek.
In a matter of moments, the woman reached out and felt Alice’s fur, began petting her and asked, “Is this Alice?” I confirmed, and she started to cry. Alice snuggled in close as the resident petted and talked to her. By the time we left, the lady seemed to have forgotten what upset her.
Perhaps Alice’s biggest fan was Dave, a resident of an Eau Claire memory care facility. Watching from a window, he couldn’t always contain his excitement, and he’d set off door alarms as he came out to meet us and claim Alice. He would sit in a chair, snuggle with her for the entire 45-miute visit and tell anyone within earshot that Alice was his girlfriend. Thankfully, the other residents were content to pet the other dogs that came along, including Pete, a toy poodle adopted by Bob’s House in 2012 for Canine Company because he was sweet and gentle like Alice.
Alice later retired from Canine Company and got to simply enjoy being one of the Quellas’ beloved pets, but residents often asked volunteers about her during Canine Company visits before the program ended in 2020. Like them, I won’t forget about Alice.
Written by: Christena O’Brien, Bob’s House for Dogs Board of Directors