STAFF WRITER cshultz@pe.com 
   Helen Richardson walks through the hallways of Riverside County Regional Medical Center with a dog and a smile.

   The dog — Rumor, a 5-year-old Rottweiler — is credited with helping Helen recover from serious injuries she suffered when she was hit by a pickup outside Hemet High School in May.

   Helen, now 16, still was unconscious when Rumor and her handler, Lisa Medina, walked into her hospital room three days after the crash. Having heard about Helen’s love of animals, Medina lifted the 90-pound dog onto a chair beside the girl’s bed, took Helen’s clenched hand and rubbed it against Rumor’s nose.

   Medina opened Helen’s fingers and rubbed them across the dog’s nose, and then Helen reached out to pet the dog again.

   It was the first movement Helen had made after the crash.

   She sustained a permanent brain injury when she was one of eight students hit while crossing the street outside Hemet High on May 30. The crash was caused by faulty brakes in a fellow student’s truck, authorities said later.

   Helen’s mother, Trisha Telezinski, had requested that Rumor visit her daughter.

   “I knew the dog would prove she’s just resting,” Telezinski said Monday, Jan. 28. “The dog was enough to bring her out of her rest, because she loves animals so much.”

   Eight months later, Helen was back at the Moreno Valley hospital, helping Medina and Rumor comfort other patients 
. On Monday, they walked through the pediatrics wing so the dog could visit young patients like 3-year-old Pharroah Zelaya, a Perris boy who was injured in a crash.

   Pharroah giggled as he played with the big dog and didn’t want to stop.

   No matter who Rumor is helping, she appears to have a favorite patient.

   “She always wants to be with Helen,” Medina said.

   As Helen went behind a closed door on Monday, Rumor pushed her nose against the barrier, looking for her friend. She did the same thing earlier, when she lost sight of the teen in a crowded elevator.

   During Rumor’s first visit with Helen in June, the dog’s eyes immediately locked onto the girl, people who were 
there said.

   They bonded more during future hospital visits and then at the rehabilitation center where Helen moved before returning to her Hemet home in July.

   Rumor has kept Helen grounded, the girl’s mother said

   “Rumor has been a stabilizer,” Telezinski said. “What she’s doing is therapeutic for (Helen) and others.”

   Medina and Helen visit patients every two weeks. Helen said volunteering with Rumor is a way of giving back — repayment for what the dog did for her.

   She said she enjoys working with Rumor “because she helps other people.”

   “It feels great (to help),” Helen said.

   As she continues her recovery, Helen is taking independent study courses at Helen Hunt Jackson School and volunteering at Dartmouth Middle School. She hopes to get her driver’s license soon.

   “She’s doing great,” said her grandmother, Patricia Young.

   Helen, who has three dogs at home, hopes to find a career in which she can work with animals.

   Follow Craig Shultz on Twitter @PE_CraigShultz and online at blog. pe.com/hemet 

   Helen Richardson shares a moment with Rumor, a therapy dog credited with helping Helen recover from serious injuries she suffered when she was hit by a pickup outside Hemet High.

Helen Richardson, right, volunteers with Lisa Medina and her dog Rumor, both volunteers with Riverside County Regional Medical Center, as they visit Pharroah Zelaya, 3, of Perris, a patient.

Rumor is a 5-year-old Rottweiler.

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