Italian Spinone Has A Way With People, A Truly Unforgettable Way Of Connecting

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The American Kennel Club’s “Therapy Dog of the Year” is spreading lots of love and wet kisses.

“Marconi,” a beloved pooch at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, visits patients every week, lighting up the room wherever he goes.

Ronald Stewart, who is undergoing chemotherapy for gastric cancer, said Marconi turns everything around — even his life-long fear of dogs.

“This dog here Marconi…really a sweetheart…love the eyes,” he told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu on Friday.

Oncology nurse Jeanna Musikant said a visit from Marconi does a lot more than just lift the spirits.

“The patient, it calms them down, it brings down their blood pressure. Petting an animal, it’s better than medicine. It’s all in the attitude. The dog is not there to judge you; they just want to love you,” Musikant said.

Marconi, an Italian Spinone, is 3 1/2 years old and started training to be a therapy dog when he was just 4 months old. His owner, Cooper Lawrence, said he’s been super sensitive from day one.

“When somebody is very sick, even if somebody sneezes, he comes running over. I remind him he’s not a doctor, but he does have that bedside manner,” Lawrence said.

Marconi went through 18 weeks of therapy training and takes part in a slew of programs, including one at Columbus Library on the Upper West Side — a literacy program where kids read to him.

“When I first heard that kids could read to Marconi, I thought ‘What is that going to do for you?’ But when I tried it, I just felt open to him. I love reading to him, I loved it,” said 12-year-old Naya Barberan.

“When I’m reading a book and he’s like panting over me, it’s pretty funny and he’s all like drooling, it’s pretty funny,” Timothy Publik added.

And it’s working. There’s often a waiting list just to read to the dog’s unforgettable face.

Marconi will receive his award this weekend at the American Kennel Club’s “Meet The Breeds” event at the Javits Center.

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