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Dogs Ease Pandemic Isolation For Nursing Home Residents

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Jeff Philipson, 80, left, exclaims as therapeutic activities staff member Kate DelPizzo arrives for a visit with Zeus, a bichon frise, at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. New dog recruits are helping to expand the nursing home's pet therapy program, giving residents and staff physical comfort while human visitors are still restricted because of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

(AP)–After months of social distancing, residents of a Bronx nursing home are getting some much-needed snuggles from a crew of canine companions. Eileen Nagle is a resident of Hebrew Home at Riverdale overlooking the Hudson River. She says petting a peppy little bichon frise named Zeus brings her joy at a time when she can see her family only in video chats and drive-by visits.

Hebrew Home, operated by RiverSpring Health, has had a dog therapy program for 20 years but suspended it when the pandemic lockdown started in March. Now it’s renewing and expanding the program to help fill residents’ need for affectionate physical interactions.

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