It wasn’t an ordinary therapy dog visit; it was a COVID-19 visit.

The patients were inside, on beds or wheelchairs, in walkers or on chairs. The dogs were outside, looking in the windows with goofy grins, wagging tails, alert ears. The handlers wore masks.

Even though no stranger’s hand touched fur or stroked velvety ears, the results were the same: smiles and joy and a brief respite from the rigors of healing.

This was a visit from the therapy dogs of High Desert to the patients and staff at Avamere Rehabilitation at Fiesta Park in Albuquerque.

Twelve teams made the first visit on July 8, and fifteen the second one on July 15. It will be a regular event on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Julie Davis, Activities Director at Avamere, took some of the photographs from inside the rooms where she had a close-up view of patients’ reactions. She reported rave reviews.

One patient, whose room overlooked the courtyard instead of outside the building, asked that she be taken in a wheelchair to a place where she could see the dogs.

It was a no-contact, no petting, COVID-19, “wear a mask and keep your distance visit,” but it was a therapy dog visit. At last we could share our magnificent therapy dogs once again with those who need them the most.