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Canine charity continues spreading smiles through pandemic

Here’s some “pawsitive” news for you! Some furry faces are working to spread smiles to people in isolation as one canine charity is sending four-legged support into the homes of local Floridians.

So what is making Mel Nikula and his North Naples neighbor Donna Sonnesyn smile and laugh beneath their masks? Cute videos of the dogs with the canine charity, Golden PAWS Assistance Dogs.

“Our dogs are being trained for placements with combat wounded veterans and children with life-changing disabilities,” said Golden PAWS Assitance Dogs Vice President of Philanthropy, Cindy Nelson. “We want to be supportive of the community and this is a time for us to continue our work.”

These therapy dogs typically make in-person visits to Vi at Bentley Village. But since COVID-19 made visiting the senior living community unsafe, the non-profit is sharing videos of them training these cuddly canines along with supportive messages.

“We wanted to let the residents know that we were still here, that we were thinking about them,” Nelson said.

“I really enjoy the dogs it’s very relaxing the dogs are really relaxing,” Nikula said.

“It was just an opportunity to try to make other folks feel better and give our volunteers something to look forward to sharing,” Nelson said, “just to do things to lift spirits.”

Lifting spirits through these friendly, furry faces because being in isolation doesn’t mean you’re alone.

Paw print cards and more videos are in the works as Golden PAWS continues to use dogs to spread joy around Southwest Florida.

Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Briana Harvath
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