Kindness for Strange Dogs
Perhaps Kirsten R. Santiago's favorite wedding gift from her husband was Lady Sailor, a good-natured American bulldog. Her husband, Peter, later adopted a second dog to keep Sailor company; the couple took the dogs everywhere.
One Sunday every month Mrs. Santiago, 26, who worked for Insurance Overload Systems in the World Trade Center, drove Sailor from their home in the Bronx to the Hudsonview Nursing Home in North Bergen, N.J., to play with patients and try to help them recover. Sailor had been certified by Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs Inc., as sufficiently well trained and friendly to play safely with people suffering from Alzheimer's and other illnesses, said June Golden, founder and president of the company. Mrs. Santiago was one of the most reliable volunteers, Ms. Golden said. Several of the therapy dogs attended a memorial service for Mrs. Santiago on Saturday, Ms. Golden said.
Now, Mr. Santiago said, he has to take care of two dogs by himself. "It's a big challenge," he said. "But I can't let them go."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 15, 2001.