Tulsa’s Heroine Pet Simone

posted January 15th, 2007 by
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Story by Marilyn King

One bright beautiful day last October I headed out to Saint Simeon’s Episcopal Home, a retirement community, to interview one of their most important employees. Not a human employee, but a canine one. Meet Simone, the Golden Retriever resident mascot at Saint Simeon’s, who has been a faithful employee there her entire life.

Simone was born in Jenks on July1, 1997. Her AKC name is Alter’s Simone of Saint Simeon’s. The Alters are the family who donated her to the home, and it was planned to place her there as a companion animal even before her arrival into this world.

For the first two years of her life Simone rarely left the facility. She was there everyday, all day, all night, mainly in the Memory Center (Alzheimer’s unit), where she had many favorite people she hung out with. Because the Memory Center is home to residents who don’t keep regular “hours,” the unit keeps its lights on all night in the activity areas, and accordingly, Simone was also up all night, working 24/7, with no rest. The staff noticed she was gradually becoming a bit ill-tempered and a little snarly, so very unlike the nature of her breed. After some consultation, they realized Simone was suffering from exhaustion and needed regular down time so, Simone started going home each evening with the Director of Nursing, Carla Stokesberry, until Carla’s retirement in 2006.

Now Simone arrives at the facility each day around 8:00 a.m., and makes the “rounds” with her “mom,” Kathy Hinkle, Director of Continuing Education. She walks around the building to say hi to all the residents, family members, and employees, and knows who is saving that bite of toast or little piece of bacon for her. (She makes it a point to see them first, of course.) She spends her days primarily visiting with the residents, but also playing on the 50-acre property, chasing squirrels and wild turkeys, and making new friends with visitors and newcomers. The children who visit are especially fond of Simone and love to seek her out when they’re there. Saint Simeon’s also has a private chapel and a full-time priest on staff, so Simone has attended many funerals of her human friends. She’s also one of the first to greet you at their fundraising events, parties, or other celebrations.

When Simone meets you, she has a habit of “leaning” into you to make petting her easier. I had the pleasure of experiencing her “lean.” She has been known to sit on people’s feet to keep them from getting away.

In these later years, Simone is taking longer naps now and is graying gracefully, befitting her ten years, but she is still one cool canine. She is a gracious dog with a gracious nature, and even though she doesn’t get a “paycheck,” she receives a much more important reward. What a wonderful thing to give and receive so much love and to have so many admirers in one place! She has comforted many residents in the Memory Center through some dark, lonely hours, and she has been known to get a response from some when no one else can reach them. Rock on, Simone! In my book you are truly one of Tulsa’s Heroine Pets!

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