By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star
---- — HOWES CAVE — People love dogs, and dogs love people, and so when Kerrie Colin, director of the Animal Shelter of Schoharie County, fielded a request from a local nursing home to bring dogs to the facility, she quickly said “yes.”
That was in December.
Since then, two Miniature Schauzers from the shelter have become a very big hit at the Sharon Springs Manor, located at 629 U.S. Route 20, Sharon Springs.
“After we got the call, I started testing out different dogs to see how they would do around wheelchairs, walkers and strangers,” Colin recalled. “It turned out to be a fantastic idea.”
The two cuddly dogs who passed all tests with flying colors were Fred and Ernie. They have spent two days at the nursing home, first in March, and then again this month.
“They just fell in love with everybody there,” Colin said. “The patients love it. The dogs love it. And we love going there.”
Fred, she said, felt so comfortable among the patients that he ended up taking a 40-minute snooze on the lap of a man in his late 90s. The patient also got in a few winks with Fred nuzzled into him.
As it turns out, a new adoptive home has been found for Fred and Ernie. They are scheduled to depart from the shelter on May 3
But Colin said she already has two older beagles in mind to take their place at Sharon Springs Manor in May.
The beagles, she said, are generally not among the first dogs to be adopted because they are hounds prone to bark, and, in this case, they are of advanced years.
“The patients honestly do remember everything there is to remember about these dogs’ visits,” Colin said.
The shelter is currently home to about 35 dogs and 60 cats, she said. Many of the felines have been there since they were seized from the home of a local woman who has been charged with animal neglect.
Colin said sending cats to the nursing home might not work out as readily as dogs, because some cats have a tendency to scratch, and patients might be on blood thinning medication.
The initial experience at Sharon Springs Manor has been so positive that Colin said she will be sending dogs to Marchand Manor, an assisted living facility in Sharon Springs that is affiliated with Sharon Springs Manor.
“When the dogs are sitting on their laps, you see the smiles coming across people’s faces,” Colin said. “It’s so very heart-warming.”