American Goodness: Pups pay it forward

·Global Anchor

By Brian Prowse-Gany

Look out, Lassie… there’s a new kind of canine hero in town. Animal-assisted therapy is becoming an increasingly popular method of providing physical and mental relief. One group being recognized for its reliable and innovative use of pet therapy is the Good Dog Foundation, a charitable organization whose mission is to ease human suffering and promote recovery from trauma and stress.

One of the stars of the Good Dog Foundation’s roster of certified volunteer dogs is Kinje, a 4-year-old Havanese mix who “looks like a shih tzu” according to her handler, Vivian, a medical student at Columbia University. We spent a “day-in-the-life” with Kinje as she prepared to share her affection with those in need.

Early in the afternoon, the cute little pup made her typical rounds at the pediatric center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “The dogs that have the right temperament are priceless,” said Patrick Hazard, a father to one of the many children having a longer than average stay at the hospital. “They are a wonderful benefit and a wonderful distraction.”

Another star from the Good Dog Foundation is Sophie, who routinely visits Atria West 86, a senior living community on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “The Good Dog Foundation is an integral part of our community here,” says Paul Corvino, who works at the center. “Having the added visits just makes our residents feel special.”