Sign In

Canine Companions

April 23, 2020

In these uncertain times, many of us look to our four-legged helpers for stability and companionship. For those who rely on service dogs, the animals can bring an added level of comfort during the pandemic

At St. Augustine Rehab Specialists, 3-year old Harley has big responsibilities. Every day, Harley works to make life easier for those living with Parkinson’s Disease. A major part of his job is to help patients with their physical therapy, but the personal impact he has is just as important. Especially during this pandemic.

“He immediately clears their mind,” Lomaglio said. “They’re not thinking about coronavirus when they walk through the door. They’re thinking, ‘oh, there’s Harley!’”

Harley and his human, physical therapist Melanie Lomaglio, were matched through Canine Companions for Independence a year ago. They’ve gotten close in that time. In many ways, he’s gotten close with her patients, too.

“Parkinson’s causes what we call non-motor symptoms which is depression, anxiety, and apathy,” Lomaglio said. “So, when something like coronavirus comes along, all of those things are exacerbated.”

Lomaglio says Harley’s ability to connect with patients can ease their symptoms.

“Harley, just by his nature, is able to reduce some of those things,” Lomaglio said.

Despite the virus, CCI is working to make more success stories. Normally Robyn Bush would train McCall at the training center near her home in Orlando. Instead, she works from home to get him ready for his future human.

“We get to see kind of their pet side, like what they’re like at home,” Bush said. “Just gathering so much information about their personality and their temperament.”

McCall is adapting well, too. When things finally do return to normal, those in need of a service dog can feel confident in knowing some are ready to help now, and others are well on their way.

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Former Victoria man’s diabetic alert dog helps him get back to life

    When Luke Hengen’s diabetes worsened in his early twenties, it stripped him of the outdoor activities where the country kid felt at home. Countless wilderness adventures and years of hard-fought football games took a toll on his body, to the point where he could no longer sense when his blood sugar was too high or […]

    Read more

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more