Dog brightens the day for seniors living under coronavirus quarantine

Tonka is a big deal at the Cedar Pointe Health and Wellness Suites.

March 24, 2020, 1:19 PM

Not even the coronavirus can stop Tonka the Great Dane from spreading joy.

The former therapy dog is known throughout his community of Cedar Park, Texas, especially at the Cedar Pointe Health and Wellness Suites.

"Every Thursday morning, Tonka showed up," receptionist Roberta Austin told ABC News. "He does a little hop when he sees me. He's wonderful."

PHOTO: Tonka the Great Dane regularly brought joy to the residents at Cedar Pointe Health & Wellness Suites.
Tonka the Great Dane regularly brought joy to the residents at Cedar Pointe Health & Wellness Suites.
Courtesy Courtney Leigh

In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Suites and some other senior centers throughout the nation have banned outside visitors, including dogs.

Tonka's owner, Courtney Leigh, took it upon herself to go the extra mile. She made a poster that read, "We miss you," and she and Tonka made their way to the center. They stood outside the windows waiting for the residents to see.

"They were smiling from ear to ear. Some reached out to touch the window," Leigh told ABC News. "Of all the therapy visits, probably the most meaningful was this window visit. It seemed much more special with what's going on right now."

PHOTO: Courtney Leigh takes her Great Dane Tonka to visit residents of Cedar Pointe Health & Wellness Suites on March 17, 2020, in Cedar Pointe, Texas.
Courtney Leigh takes her Great Dane Tonka to visit residents of Cedar Pointe Health & Wellness Suites on March 17, 2020, in Cedar Pointe, Texas.
Courtesy Courtney Leigh

"Every single visit is special with Tonka," Leigh said. "You certainly don't realize what people are going through at any time but if you are able to bring a tiny bit of joy, that is a huge moment."

She added, "Watching him brighten someone's day, it's transforming, from the moment they see us walking to the window."

PHOTO: A sign greets Tonka during his visit to residents of Cedar Pointe Health & Wellness Suites on March 17, 2020, in Cedar Pointe, Texas.
A sign greets Tonka during his visit to residents of Cedar Pointe Health & Wellness Suites on March 17, 2020, in Cedar Pointe, Texas.
Courtesy Courtney Leigh

"I put my hand on the window and he came up to the window to kiss me. It was so cute," Dorothy Humphrey told ABC News. She has lived at the center for a year and a half and says residents are staying strong during this dark time and holding onto good moments like these.

"We know that they have not forgotten about us. We'll get through this with each other," she said.

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