Dolly, a toy poodle, is trained for pet therapy.
Harley, a standard poodle, and Dolly going to visit patients at a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Staten Island, with their owner, Eugene Edkins.
The group greets Anna Antoniato in the lobby.
Ruth Martin, 86, is at Clove Lakes for three weeks of rehabilitation. “She's starting to eat a little but, the thing is to get her to walk,” said Bob Taura, her son-in-law. “If she can’t walk I’m afraid she’s going to have to stay here and go upstairs to the nursing home area.”
“If a person is really sick and you bring an animal in, it's like a shot of adrenalin,” said Mr. Taura. “It’s the truth.” Delighted to see the dog, Ms. Martin leans forward to kiss Dolly. “We don’t encourage kissing,” teases Mr. Edkins.
Mr. Edkins, 59, with Harley and Dolly, going to visit nursing home residents. His wife, Georgette Edkins, 53, with Bailey and Feather, Tibetan spaniels who are also trained for pet therapy.
Feather visits Teresa Filomeno.
Edward Van Dusen, 84, admires Harley. “That’s one fine animal,” he said. Harley holds several obedience titles, and Mr. Van Dusen, who had a military career, appreciates the dog's training. “Sometimes, especially men that have been in the service, they like the bigger dogs,” said Mr. Edkins.
Visits last about an hour. “Everybody goes home tired as anything,” said Ms. Edkins. “There’s so much to see. There are so many distractions. You’re going to different rooms, different reception areas. It’s better than taking them for a three-mile walk, because there are so many different people.”
Back in the van before heading home. Money from The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund is used to reimburse some of the Edkins' gas expenses. The dogs, from left: Harley, Bailey, Feather (on floor) and Dolly. “I never expected it to be as gratifiying,” said Ms. Edkins of the pet therapy work. “Some patients smile and say, ‘You made my day,’ and we get that all the time, ‘You made my day.’”
The Neediest Cases | Dogs Who Bring Joy - The New York Times > N.Y. / Region > Slide Show > Slide 12 of 13