You might have seen Dr. Quincy on TV. Depending on your age, that could mean more than one thing to you. But fans of the Rachael Ray Show who were watching on April 3 will know the updated reference well enough to correct something. You see, it’s not quite “Doctor” Quincy. It’s actually “Dogtor” Quincy.
To be fair, both Quincys stand about six feet and weigh around 200 pounds, but the good dogtor is a lot less blustery. Mastiffs are like that, usually. They take things slow and easy. But even then, says his mom, Karen March, Quincy is unusually chill.
This, of course, is part of what makes Quincy a perfect therapy dog, says March, a lifelong Ewing resident. She’s not just speaking as a proud mastiff mom. She means it as objectively as she can say it.
“He’s super gentle,” she says. “He could pick a grain of rice out of a baby’s fingers and you’d still have all the fingers.”
To put that into scale, consider that Quincy’s above-mentioned dimensions are not a joke. He’s been trained to never put his paws on anyone and never does, March says, but were he to put his forepaws on her shoulders, he actually would stand about six feet. He really does weigh 190 pounds, too, and his head is about the size of a baby all by itself.
On his feet, he’s tall enough to plop that giant head of his onto the end of someone’s hospital bed, which makes it easy for less mobile people to meet him. It’s not common for a therapy dog to be so big, March says. And it can be intimidating for some people to see a dog that big come close to them.
And yet, she says, Quincy is a legitimately gentle giant, aware of how big he is and keen to sense when people, from kids on the pediatric floor to seniors in a nursing home, are afraid. That’s why he does the least threatening thing possible when he senses someone’s fear—he lies down and waits for a belly rub.
Quincy’s job started about eight years ago, and succeeds that of Bella, March’s other super-sweet mastiff, who weighs a comparatively slim 150 pounds and (despite the sound of her name) does not like belly rubs from strangers. Bella was March’s first therapy dog. She was in an obedience class with a few therapy dogs when she realized Bella would be an ideal one of those herself.
Bella visited nursing homes for about a decade. She didn’t like hospitals; the machines and the occasional chaos spooked her, March says. She did, however, love to visit nursing homes, where residents often waited in groups by the door for her to drop by on Wednesday evenings.
Now 11 (somewhat old for a mastiff) and retired from therapy work, Bella still “goes to see her grandma once a month,” March says. Grandma is March’s 92-year-old mom, who still gets a kick out of the visits, which always seem to be at a good speed for both visitor and visitee. Which is to charitably say, unhurried.
When Bella was about 4, March knew she wanted another mastiff. Actually, she wanted a bigger mastiff, because “150 pounds wasn’t big enough.” She found Quincy through a breeder in Virginia. He was the gentlest in the litter, born a mere one-and-a-half pounds and small enough to fit into March’s hand.
She brought him back to Ewing, where she’s lived all her life, when he was 8 weeks old—and weighed 18 pounds already. Quincy then proceeded to beef up at an average rate of three-quarters of a pound a day for about the next seven months, March says. At age 1, he weighed 160 pounds. By age 2, he’d reached his full size and weight.
And by the way, 190 pounds is not giant for a mastiff. Some can get to 250 pounds or more. But for March, 340 pounds of mastiff are quite enough, and “take up a lot of bed space.”
Quincy is certified through Therapy Dogs International. Certification is needed to visit hospitals, though not for visits to schools or Girl Scout meetings, where Quincy helps the girls earn animal badges and learn about therapy dogs.
From the get-go, Quincy was in love with being loved by everybody; an endlessly friendly boy without an aggressive cell in his body, March says. His demeanor has earned him plenty of human friends, in person and online. All told, Quincy has about 10,000 friends on Facebook (with whom he’s quite chatty) in addition to the ones he makes whenever he drops by Capital Health System’s Hopewell campus twice a week.
March and Quincy rotate the floors they visit. They stay off the maternity floor, but do visit children, adults, and geriatric patients. They hit a different floor with every visit, March says, because it’s usually a two-hour trip, or more. Part of that is because Quincy needs to visit with his people friends, from the valet to the receptionist, and from the security and food staff to the doctors and nurses.
For their part, the staff love Quincy as much as he loves to visit. Denise Ogrodnick-Murphy is a mobility tech at Capital Health-Hopewell. She helps patients get out of bed and through physical therapy.
“He just puts such a smile on everybody’s face,” she says. “We all stop what we’re doing when we see him coming.”
The patients respond to how gentle Quincy is and how big he is (“He’s not a lap dog”), but Ogrodnick-Murphy says the staff need him once in a while too.
“Sometimes your day can just be one thing after another,” she says. “But when I see him, I think, ‘Okay, I’ve got time for this. He just makes you forget for a minute. I love him.”
Unsurprisingly, Quincy doesn’t hurry through his rounds. His ID card is size of a baseball card, with a photo and bio, and the most important piece of information for people to know: “I love belly rubs.”
Yes, it actually says that on his card. Which goes over well with people, March says. Just like his stethoscope and ties.
Yes, Dr. Quincy March dresses for the job. He’s got about three dozen ties to choose from, thanks to a Facebook friend from Canada who makes them for him.
“You can’t buy off the rack for a guy his size,” March says.
And if you’re curious, his neck is about 30 inches. In other words, the size of a slim adult man’s waist.
‘They love him. He’s the only doctor who never tell anybody what to do. He’s just there.’
Once the sharp-dressed dogtor finishes catching up with the nurses’ station, he and March casually meander through the halls until they find someone who wants a visit. And while March always asks new people if they’d like to see a therapy dog, she says Quincy has an uncanny knack for knowing who could really use a house call.
“We might go past eight doors,” she says. “Then on the ninth, it’s like he says ‘This person needs me.’” She can’t remember the last time he was wrong.
Once, she says, Quincy led her purposefully to a room at the end of the hall. It turns out, no one but the admitting nurses and doctors even knew there was a patient in that room; she’d bee in there less than an hour. As it also turned out, the patient was one of Quincy’s many nurse friends and he knew she would want to see him.
It’s safe to say Quincy is kind of a rock star. Between the hospital and the Facebook accounts, Quincy got enough attention to trigger a phone call from the producers of the Rachael Ray Show.
“It was one of his Facebook friends,” March says. “None of them will admit it to me, but I was contacted by one of the producers through Facebook.”
Being TV, the whole experience moved pretty rapidly. The producers contacted her on a Friday, followed up on Monday, shot footage by the following Friday, and aired it the next Tuesday. The uncommon-for-her speed of the whole thing worked in her favor. March was scared to death to be on TV and racing through everything didn’t give her time to think.
Funny, though, if you watch the segment, you’ll see Quincy do something he never does—he puts his paw on March while she and Quincy and Rachel Ray are all sitting on the stage.
“I think he did that for me because he knew I needed it,” she says. It was his way of saying everything was fine because he was there for her.
As much as Dr. Quincy has brought healing and light to people he’s never met, he’s done it for Karen March as well. Shy and unassuming by nature, March doesn’t even like having her picture taken, much less be actually center-stage on TV in Manhattan.
But Quincy, even more than Bella, has made March a bit of a local celebrity. She meets neighbors pretty much every time she and Quincy take a walk (which is every day), and that compels her to talk to everyone who wants to come over to meet the only mastiff besides Bella in the neighborhood. That pretty much means everyone, by the way.
Chatting with strangers through Quincy has given March confidence in life even when he’s not around, she says. But when he is there, she feels this way: “When he’s with me, I can do anything.”
His size is an immediate attractant and a frequent stumbling block for people afraid of dogs, she says. Being the size of a small pony—which she would know, because she had horses as a kid—does that to people. But those intimidated by Quincy get over it fast, and even people with lifelong cynophobia have gotten past it thanks to a few visits with Dr. Quincy.
A neighbor of March’s was attacked by a dog as a girl, for example. For 50 years she stayed away from every dog in the world. But Quincy’s bedside manner—lying down and being extra gentle—got this neighbor to come pet him, March says. She was so proud of herself, she ran into the house and got her daughter, who was astonished to see her mother touching any dog, especially one so big. March says she has dozens of stories like this from hospitals and nursing homes, where once jittery patients found themselves taking Quincy up on his love of belly rubs.
When he’s not at work, Quincy is a lot like most mastiffs, which is to say a couch potato. Despite their size, mastiffs are known to be among the least energetic breeds. This, says March, makes him such a good therapist, and it also contributes to a surprisingly small food bill. The pro athlete-sized Quincy actually only eats a cup of kibble and a cup of vegetables a day, March says. There’s not much calorie burning that needs to happen.
When she’s not taking the good dogtor to see people, March is a groundskeeper at Rider University. For 16 years she installed tile and carpeting with a friend. They had a contract with Rider. When the friend could no longer do the work, friends at Rider told her about an opening on the groundskeeping crew. That was 16 years ago, and March says she loves her work. It keeps her outside, among the flowers and trees, where she prefers to be.
At home, March has a front yard full of flowers, too. She’s an avid gardener who prefers the company of her yard and dogs, and for a while now, she’s been elated to have her perfect domestic setup.
She’ll probably never be without canine company. As a kid, she and her family had pets of all sorts, from dogs and cats to rabbits and horses. The horses were kept on a neighbor’s property for the small fee of a young Karen mowing the grass for them. It was a good deal all around, she says—the family got their grounds maintained and got to claim farm status for a tax break, and March got to have a pet horse.
The family had a bloodhound that her father used to show back in the 1950s and ’60s, she says. The New Jersey State Police would occasionally borrow him to track escapees. That was always pretty cool to March, having a tracker dog who used to keep his nose honed by tracking her brothers through the woods with her dad.
Quincy, of course, is not at all a tracker. Even the squirrels in her yard walk around him with impunity when he’s lazing on the grass, she says. They know he won’t chase them. Even though Bella will.
Again, this is what makes him such a good therapy dog, March says. His low energy is calming, and when combined with his otherwise sweet demeanor, it’s almost impossible not to feel comfortable around Dogtor Quincy.
“People always say ‘Dr. Quincy is here,’” she says. “They love him. He’s the only doctor who never tell anybody what to do. He’s just there.”