Once a month at , the senior residents are treated to a special visitor: a Yorkshire terrier named Jingles.
And special he is, made clear by the unadulterated delight that spread through the the adult care center the moment Jingles walked into the lobby, clad in a holiday sweater.
Jingles is a trained therapy dog through The Good Dog Foundation, a Brooklyn-based organization that connects pups with people in various health care, social services, educational, and community facilities.
During Jingles' visits, the seniors can hold, pet and play with him–an activity that sparks fits of laughter from the participants.
"He makes the residents feel very warm and helps them to remember their own pets," said Johanne DiGiovanni, the recreation assistant at the Regency. "Pets are like music to them; it's like medicine. It gives them hope some how."
While Jingles travels to several facilities throughout the area–including P.S 23, a psychiatric school in Queens–his much-awaited visits are only made possible by his owner, 10-year-old Emily Paul.
"We're a team," said Paul, a New Hyde Park resident.
Paul received Jingles as gift from her grandmother Diana–who accompanies the duo on their visits–in 2006.
"No one wanted him as a puppy because he had two hernia surgeries," Paul said. "He was the runt; but I thought he could make a lot of people happy."
In June of last year, Paul decided to take Jingles to the Good Dog Foundation, after he had failed several other training classes.
Paul said that she believes Jingles was destined to be a therapy dog.
"I always knew Jingles had it in him," she said. "He is an extraordinary dog. His trainers at The Good Dog Foundation said he was made for this."
Paul said that bringing Jingles to visit the seniors at the Regency is a rewarding experience that she looks forward to each month: "I could do this everyday," she said. "It's so nice to see their faces light up when me and Jingles walk in."