LONGMEADOW, Mass (WWLP) – Residents and staff of the Ruth’s House, an assisted living facility in Longmeadow, built a long-lasting friendship with a yellow-colored cockatiel named Tweety.
At first, Mary-Anne Schelb, Director of Business Development at JGS Lifecare, the organization that operates Ruth’s House and Leavitt Family Jewish Home, assumed the bird was a neighbor’s pet. Animal shelters and police were called, but never any sign of an owner. Six years later, the bird has remained at the Ruth House for residents to admire. Tweety has been flying and singing down the hallways at Ruth’s House since 2016.
According to a news release from JGS Lifecare, Tweety’s natural video camera presence has turned Ruth’s House into an environment that feels like home to residents.
Susan Halpern, Vice President of Development and Communications of JGS Lifecare, noted that research indicates that some bird sounds may offer relief from mental fatigue and stress.“Studies with bird sounds have showen that they may have a restorative effect on individuals,” stated Halpern. “Of course, it’s not an exact science,” she clarified, “but I do notice that our residents light up as soon as they see or hear Tweety.”
Tweety plays many roles in the Ruth House such as being an assistant, appearing in activities throughout the living center, and emotional support. Tweety can be found walking on the shoulder of Greg Gale, a member of the Ruth’s House life enrichment staff. He participates in trivia nights by sitting on the edge of a chair and squawk to answer a trivia question.
“Pets have a delightful way of opening doors that would otherwise be locked or difficult to open,” noted Gale. “For many people, a dog, cat, or bird brings into mind positive memories and stories of life experiences. If one is feeling sadness or loneliness the visit of a pet can turn these feelings around and raise them to levels of gratefulness and joy. When a caregiver is trying to reach the essence of a person in need a pet visit can be extremely effective in cleansing sour attitudes with positive experiences. Here at Ruth’s House we are lucky to have a resident cockatiel “Tweety” who makes special appearances to activities or visits to a resident’s room when they are feeling ill.”
Mary-Anne Schelb sums up how Tweety’s existence has brightened up the lives of many. “Six years ago, Tweety literally walked into our lives,” said Mary-Anne. “Today he is a vital part of the Ruth’s House family. I find myself walking by his cage at least a few times a day,” she admitted. “He never fails to make me smile.”