Two Lanett seniors receive Hasbro Joy for All pets

Published 9:00 am Friday, March 4, 2022

LANETT — On Thursday, two participants in the Lanett Senior Center program each received a companion pet thanks to a new program that’s available to Alabama seniors who live alone.

Mary Floyd named her new dog Precious, and Eddie Ussery named his cat Sandy.

They have received their companions at no cost to them.

“They are so cute!” Senior Center Manager Sandra Thornton said of the Hasbro Joy for All companion pets.

Precious is designed to look, feel, sound, and act like a real puppy and Sandy like a real cat. They are battery-powered and have state-of-the-art technology that makes them seem lifelike. Precious goes, “ruff! ruff!’ like a young puppy and Sandy meows like a real cat. When one strokes the robot pets in a certain way, they can feel a heartbeat. Each companion pet has a lifelike coat and makes authentic sounds. They can even respond to voices.

When the pet’s cheek is petted, they will nuzzle you like a real dog or cat. When the back of the head is petted, it will respond to that touch. When one talks to the companion pet, it will respond with puppy-like and cat-like noises.

When the owner doesn’t interact with their pet for a few minutes, it will go to sleep. It will wake up when one walks past or pats it on the head.

These companion pets have been carefully adapted to inspire delight, companionship and engagement for all generations.

“They make great companions for seniors who live alone,” Thornton said. “The expression on Mr. Ussery’s face when we gave him his new cat was priceless. We know that Mary Floyd misses her dog. She had to give it up.”

Precious was the name of that dog. Her new companion pet carries the same name.

The robot pets are made available at no cost to the seniors through the state’s Ageless Innovation Program for Seniors.

“These aren’t the only two will be getting,” Thornton said. “More will be coming. The joy of my job is making people happy. We get to do that through programs like this.”

Mayor Jamie Heard came by the senior center to see the new companion pets and to congratulate their new owners. “Sandra is doing such a good job with our senior program,” he said. “We appreciate what she does to make them happy.”