Domino, beloved Staten Island service canine for Delight Heart of S.I. and SIUH, crosses Rainbow Bridge

STATEN ISLAND, NY – Annmarie Snow Matera was compared to her beloved service dog Domino after Superstorm Sandy and enjoyed nearly nine years of love and companionship. On the weekend of March 6th, she said goodbye to Domino, who was loved by countless Staten Islanders, as he crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Domino and Matera were raised by David Benjamin and Regina Benjamin and brought together through the Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), whose program trainers and staff stayed with Matera after the superstorm Sandy to ensure a smooth transition.

“Shortly after I brought Domino home, I knew it was a gift to share,” Matera said. “We have participated in many CCI events and fundraising drives. He held the donation bucket like no other, especially at the NYC Auto Show. He always had a way to get people to want to know more. “

With Domino by her side, Matera started a reading program on Staten Island, where the young students were often shown demonstrations about service dogs.

“There wasn’t a neighborhood we went to where you wouldn’t hear a child scream dominoes,” Matera said. “It would light up every room we walked in, especially when I went to physical therapy.”

2013: Service Dog Domino, center, with owner Annemarie Matera, helps students with special needs read the reads for a Service Dog program on PS 42. (Staten Island Advance / Irving Silverstein)


Domino volunteered for Windward On Leash Therapy Dogs, a Staten Island Pride Center project that places trained, registered therapy dog ​​teams in meaningful programs across the Staten Island community.

All therapy dogs, including Dominoes, provide comfort and care in a variety of settings including hospitals, extended care and residential facilities, schools, and agencies where therapy dogs can be of benefit.

Funded by the generosity of the Bruce Geary Foundation, Luv on a Leash Therapy Dogs is an advocate of the power of human-animal bonding to greatly improve people’s lives. The human-animal bond shows that the benefits are not only emotional, but can also boost the child’s immunity to infection, help with mental disorders by affecting brain chemistry, and lower blood pressure.

Specifically, Domino gave comfort and support to patients at Staten Island University Hospital and brought smiles to rehab and cancer patients for five years. “The kids would say his leash had super powers,” said Matera. “When it got out, there wasn’t a department we didn’t go to. Most people didn’t know my name, but they did know Domino’s. “

Domino was also an avid volunteer at the Staten Island Family Justice Center and the Richmond County DA office. “Domino gave the victims the courage to tell their story and comforted them during the trial, and he was a favorite in the courthouse,” Matera said.

“Our great work as Team Domino has drawn the attention of many news outlets. We were honored to rule out many awards, especially the community service award, ”she added.

Staten Island Advance / Irving Silverstein

2013: Domino’s service dog with owner Annemarie Matera (left) lets Jenna Hershkowitz, a student for special needs, pet her dog with professional para-professional Debra Potestivo before they start reading the reads for a service dog program on PS 42. (Staten Island Advance / Irving Silverstein)


Domino enjoyed CCI dog play dates between consecutive community service events. “Domino was always the oldest and gave the other pups a run for their money,” said Matera.

Domino was also quick to attract the attention of talk shows. “We went to a lot of talk shows,” added Matera. “Rachael Ray was his favorite. She called herself Aunt Rachel every time she came off the stage to give Domino a special treat. “

He was allowed to wear his bandana for Wendy Williams and made sure that Dr. Oz noticed. “We’ve been to outdoor concerts and countless Atlantic City trips where sometimes rubbing his head got him extra goodies.”

“Domino and I had an amazing journey,” said Matera. “Who would have thought it would have started during a natural disaster that ended during a pandemic? It served its purpose and we served ours beyond that. Domino always looked so good in the shiniest coat that nobody knew his real age.

“I’m so happy that he was able to spend his 10th birthday in his favorite place, Domino Park. I pray that God will help me along with my CCI family. I take comfort that Domino was greeted by many as he crossed, especially his brother Dodger, who passed away a few days ago. It has touched so many lives that it will always be my “domino effect”.

Staten Island Advance / Irving Silverstein

Annemarie Matera’s service dog Domino helps students with special needs to read the reads for a service dog program on PS 42. Third grade student Samantha Russo reads while Dominoes watches. (Staten Island Advance / Irving Silverstein)

Staten Island Advance / Hilton Flores

Annmarie Snow-Matera playing dominoes with her service dog and companion on August 3rd, 2015 (Staten Island Advance / Hilton Flores)

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