Trooper greets everyone he meets with a wag of his tail. This Australian labradoodle and his owner, Joan Newman, visit several buildings at Allied Services Integrated Health Systems a few times a week. Trooper visits with staff, residents and patients. He wears a red scarf and an Allied name tag noting that he is a therapy dog.
“If I spell ‘down,’ Trooper lays down,” said Newman. “If I spell ‘no,’ he knows what that means. My vet said Trooper is the only dog he knows that can spell.”
Trooper likes to visit Donna Cultro from dietary. “I give him special grain-free treats but he can only have two,” Cultro said. “He gives me joy and makes me happy.”
“Every staff, patient and resident has a better experience because of Trooper. People think: ‘What is pet therapy? Is it for pets?’ ” said Jim Brogna vice president of corporate advancement and communication at Allied Services. “Everyone who meets Trooper gets something out of it.”
Newman takes Trooper into the therapy room where patients wave and call out to him.
“He likes to play with balls,” Newman said. “He can bounce it off his nose. He is like a seal.”
“I am a dog lover,” said patient Loraine. “Trooper is fabulous. He helps patients and relieves the stress of the staff.”
Allied Services patient Sam is also a dog lover. “I like the dog very much,” he said. “He is unbelievable and can pick up on someone’s injuries. Trooper is very educated.”
Allied will have a parade for pet therapy on Sunday, April 24, at Lackawanna State Park. The event will also celebrate Newman’s 90th birthday and her service to Allied Services.
The event starts at 11 a.m. with a free sign up and agility demonstrations. Then at 11:30, pet contests for most creative, face only a parent could love and pet/owner look-alike will take place. The pet parade/walk starts at noon. There will be pet giveaways for the first 100 registrants.
“We were trying to think of an event that will raise awareness about pet therapy along with celebrating her birthday,” Brogna said.
Newman is a native of St. Louis, Missouri, and now resides in Waverly. “I met my husband Jack in Florida. He was from this area,” said Joan. “I’d never heard of Scranton, Pennsylvania.” Newman’s husband was a pilot and later worked for A.E. Rodgers Jewelers.
The Newmans’ children are Laurie, Gail, Nancy and Jack. She has six grandchildren and a great grandson.
Newman became one of the first VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteers in the 1950s. One of her first projects was an event that raised money to be used to purchase the first van with an electric lift for Allied Services.
She became volunteer president at Allied in 1958 and has been involved with the company ever since. Before Trooper, there was Beau.
“Beau was a German wirehaired pointer, and we visited Allied Skilled Nursing for nine-and-a-half years,” she said. “When he passed away, Allied had a memorial service for him. I received a plaque with his picture on it that I have at home.”
(At Allied’s request, only the patients’ first names were used in this article.)