Service dog brightening the days of doctors and nurses during pandemic

Reporter: Andrea Guerrero Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News

Service dog Dorian is working hard to comfort doctors, nurses and patients inside Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Health care workers are the only ones pulling long hours during the pandemic. Dorian reports for duty at Golisano’s from Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. outfitted in his vest.

Before COVID-19, the golden retriever visited patients but now, he cares for nurses and doctors as well.

Erika Zalecky is a child life specialist and is Dorian’s owner. “I think you can really see the effect of that when you do take him to those units. Just the way they respond to him, he takes away some of their stress. He is able to provide a support that they don’t have to talk to him. They can just sit with him and he seems to know what they need and when,” Zalecky said.

Together, they make it their mission to visit ICU nurses, who, these days, have to cope with seeing death. They see patients intubated and alone and that’s something Zalecky can’t get out of her mind.

“They’re seeing so much loss and I think it’s just been very eye-opening and he just really helps take some of the stress away,” said Zalecky.

Greta Knighton is a nurse who works with pediatric COVID patients and kids with other diseases. She says, many times, she hides the pain with laughter. The support of all the other nurses, and of course, Dorian.

“Having the ability to have something like Dorian and Erika come through with her smile and his gift of having some puppy love really helps bring down that tension and the stress that we’re all feeling,” said Knighton.

The nurses told WINK News that they look forward to seeing Dorian because their jobs are getting increasingly more difficult. So, they need a break from the stress and sadness.

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