SIOUX CITY -- Four residents at the Heritage at Northern Hills retirement community were presented with a special surprise Friday afternoon: robotic pet cats and a dog.
In an event organized by Northern Hills staff and the Friends Of The Animal Shelter (FOTAS), three residents were given realistic, furry electronic cats, while one got a dog. The animals make realistic noises and motions.
Heritage at Northern Hills resident Ron Strom, who said he's "maybe a shade more" than 85 years old, was given a robotic cat, which he named "Sweetie."
Sweetie was the name of a cat he had for about 10 years. The previous Sweetie, he said, was "almost as good as this one."
"This one's going to be more ideal, because, it's not any maintenance," he said.
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Cindy Rarrat, president of FOTAS, said this was the first such event held by the group. If possible, she said, they'd like to do this again.
"It provides so many benefits, by allowing (the residents) to brush the animal, care for the animal. The pet takes care of itself by keeping itself clean, they don't have to clean the litter box or they don't have to deal with going out and getting food and things like that for them," Rarrat said.
FOTAS furnished the Joy for All-brand pets, which are designed for use by senior citizens.
The Heritage at Northern Hills does allow its residents to have pets, but some are unable to care for animals. The residents who were selected to receive the electronic pets were those known to enjoy animal companionship.
Edee Swanson, a Heritage at Northern Hills resident, seemed pleased with the electronic cat she was given. But she couldn't help noting that there was something else that would have made her Valentine's Day even better.
"I'd rather have a man," Swanson said.