Court and Beverly Blatchford of Ferndale have volunteered with the county's Pets on Wheels program for more than two years. They take their two dogs once a week to visit the Meridian Nursing Home in Brooklyn Park for about an hour.
Volunteers' comments: "My father's condition was similar to that of some in nursing homes," Mr. Blatchford said, "and I felt I wanted to do something for people, to help them.
"We have two wonderful dogs -- a part-golden retriever, part-collie named Gideon, and a mixed lab and poodle, Sirius. At first, the dogs were the only thing we had in common [with the residents]."
"The dogs are kind of like the foot in the door," Mrs. Blatchford said. "It's a good way to get started talking to people, as the dogs give you something to talk about. Now, we have made dear friends. . . .
"The dogs love it. Some of the residents give them cookies or dog treats we take along.
"Sirius knows several tricks and will lay his head on people's laps. Gideon is not as personable, but he does speak."
A niece, Kate Blatchford, 12, and nephew, Michael, 10, who are staying at the Blatchfords' have accompanied them a few times and have enjoyed it, Mrs. Blatchford said. "The only thing residents like better than dogs are the children."
About the volunteers: Mr. Blatchford works in Annapolis for Crosby Communications. Mrs. Blatchford works at Woodlawn Library in Baltimore County. They have lived in the county for five years and became involved in Pets on Wheels after seeing a newspaper ad when they lived in Dundalk.
About the program: Pets on Wheels volunteers take their pets, primarily dogs, to nursing homes to allow residents to enjoy the company of the animals. Volunteers are given a two-hour training course, and animals are required to be well-maintained and to have all their shots. For more information, contact Karen Martin, the county's life enrichment director, at 222-6830.
"Volunteer Spotlight" is compiled by Kevin Harrison. To nominate someone, call the Anne Arundel Bureau, 315-8911 or 1-(800) 829-8000, Ext. 8911, any time or fax nominations to 315-8916 or mail them to: The Sun for Anne Arundel, 8131 Ritchie Highway, Pasadena, Md. 21122.