Simon the Goldendoodle is no ordinary dog.
He is a very special therapy dog who cheers up hospital patients. Simon, a large dog who weighs 85 pounds, gently nuzzles patients, sometimes licking them, and seems to take away their worries about their illnesses.
We met him for the first time at Huntington Hospital recently. This is just one of the places he visits patients. He also visits adults at Birchwood Assisted Living, Long Island Head Injury Association, and Huntington Village Rehab and Nursing.
Simon, 6, has been doing therapy work for a little more than two years. His owner, Betty Schram of Northport, had seen a newspaper article about therapy dogs and thought Simon had all the qualities to do a good job.
James McCarty, 11, of Huntington, was scheduled for a tonsillectomy that afternoon. He seemed to have things on his mind, but he warmed up to Simon and was having a great time with him. His mother, Nancy, also liked petting and hugging Simon. “He makes the parents feel better, too,” she said.
Children who had already had their surgeries also enjoyed petting Simon. Even the hospital’s nurses seemed delighted by him. Simon took a liking to Hayley’s leg and licked it up and down, making Hayley crack up laughing. He also gave Brennan his paw to “shake hands.”
We really loved meeting him. He made us smile, too.
Simon loves his job, Betty says, knows his way around the hospital, carefully maneuvers around wheelchairs and hospital beds, and seems to know which patient is next in line for his attention. He is hypoallergenic and doesn’t shed, so he can meet patients without causing problems. Simon seemed to really enjoy cuddling and licking patients. Betty tried to discourage licking by saying, “No bath!”
After about an hour’s work, Simon let Betty know he was done for the day, and received a treat from Betty’s pocket before heading home to rest.