14 February

Zinnia’s Nursing Brigade. A New Place To Visit

by Jon Katz

Zinnia is much loved by nurses. We’ve found a new and regular home on the third floor of Saratoga Hospital. All I have to do is stand in the hallway and Zinnia is soon mobbed by new fans.

I am surrounded by interesting and very nice women – and some men – wherever I go with Zinnia, I understand my role is basically to hold the leash. I ask Zinnia to lie down and she does, and sometimes, a line forms.

After I visit Susan, we talk through the different floors. Next week, I hope to visit the children’s ward

The nurses have begged me to come back – I also always bring fresh cider donuts from Saratoga Apple to the nurses, the Mansion aides have helped me understand the wonderful work these people do.

I learned at the Mansion that the staff needs a therapy dog as much, and sometimes more than the patients or residents. It’s a gift to walk down a hallway and faces lighting up with smiles as far as I can see.

So I’m adding Saratoga Hospital to my list of places to visit regularly with Zinnia – Bishop Maginn High School, the Mansion and the hospital.

The nurses and aides work long hours, their work is intense and challenging and when I see them light up at the sight of Zinnia and how much it means to them to touch her and pet her and talk to her, my heart just lifts right up.

I feel I have earned my place on the earth for one more day.

This is the right place for us to do this therapy work.

Next week I’m speaking with the Volunteer Co-ordinator to figure out when it is best for us to visit. I’d like to come twice a week, Saratoga is less than an hour from Bedlam Farm.

After visiting with the nurses, I walk past open patient doors and ask if anyone wants to see a dog. Just about everyone does. Zinnia likes the hospital, and I don’t blame her.

She was hugged and kissed within an inch of her life, Zinnia Heaven I think. And everyone opens up their cellphones so I can see their dogs.

I like talking to women, although I never imagined being approached by so many at once.  Like the Mansion aides, these young women seem special – open-hearted and committed.

They all ask me about their dogs and tell me about theirs, and whip. It’s a good thing I didn’t know about this decades ago.

I think I can handle it. This is a perfect complement to the Mansion and Bishop Maginn High School.


  1. Every time I see a therapy dog at work, I tell the handler, “This means just as much to the staff as it does to the patients!” I have a deep appreciation for the handlers that bring their dogs to the hospital. I miss my dog terribly during such long shifts, seeing a therapy dog always makes me feel better.

    1. Thanks Dana, I appreciate those nurses very much and always bring them fresh apple cider donuts and make time for them to touch and see the dog..They are angels in my mind..

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