Meet Your Neighbor: Jean Martin & Akio

People say I am the most active retired person they know. I recently retired from the New York Police Department after 23 years on the force.  I wanted to continue giving back to my community, so I looked into pet therapy. I did the research and found out shih tzus make wonderful therapy dogs, especially for older adults. From the second I met Akio, we imprinted on each other. His owner told me “All he wants to do is sleep, cuddle and love you.” Sounded perfect to me. That first day I met him, he laid his head on my shoulder and I knew he was ‘the one.’

Akio and I went through a lot of training to be able to volunteer together. After we graduated from the Good Dog Foundation, they placed us at Queens Community House’s Social Adult Day Services program, where frail or memory-impaired older adults come to socialize. Akio and I visit twice a month. It’s so rewarding to see someone who doesn’t often speak or smile light up when we come in the room.

I was a Sergeant with the NYPD, and I retired to spend time with my father, who's experiencing memory and health issues. It was a sad day when I have to leave but it was worth it to spend time with my parents. My dad isn’t usually too fond of dogs, but he calls every day to ask about Akio. “What’s he doing? Is he sleeping? What’s he eating?” I’m so glad Akio can bring joy to him and so many others.

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