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Yorkshire terrier helps bring smiles to Hospice patients

They say all it takes is a happy face to brighten someone’s day. Especially when that face is a 3-pound Yorkshire terrier named Ferrari.

“She’s absolutely adorable and the patients love having her come around,” said Volunteer Coordinator at Hospice, Marsha Grimes. “She’s so tiny and she sits right on their laps. It just gives them a wonderful feeling.”

Since the minute Joanie Kumiega put her dog, Ferrari, in her arms, she knew there was something special about her. Ferrari was very loving and kind to everyone she came into contact with. The terrier brought so much joy to people, that Kumiega thought, why not share her with others?

That is when Ferrari was put in a special program to get her pet therapy certification with Therapy Dogs International. TDI is a volunteer organization that helps pets get ready to visit nursing homes, hospitals, and other places where people are in need of a smile. The dogs are tested to see how they interact with patients and make sure they are comfortable within their surroundings.

Ferrari passed with flying colors and the first place Kumiega wanted to take her to volunteer was Hospice Buffalo in Cheektowaga. Every Monday, Ferrari visits patients whom are suffering from illness. With the touch of her soft fur and a tiny cuddle, the little dog is able to make the patients feel relaxed and at ease.

“She has such a gentle spirit and she is so loving of all people,” said Kumiega. “The patients and their family members really appreciate her visits. It definitely gives them something to smile about.”

Kumiega also said she chose Hospice because she too has had family members who have went through health issues and she wanted to give back. She hopes to see more dog owners registering their canine friends for patient therapy. So far, Hospice has a full-grown poodle, Golden Retrievers, and a yellow Labrador visiting every week.


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