There’s no limit to the amount of comfort a service dog can provide.
Back at the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic, emergency room physician Dr. Susan Ryan started bringing her adorable puppy named Wynn to work with her to comfort her fellow employees at Rose Medical Center in Denver, Colorado.
Susan volunteers as a puppy raiser with Canine Companions for Independence. Wynn is just beginning her therapy training, but she got some real on-the-job experience exactly when Susan’s colleagues needed it most!
“In the beginning, it was really overwhelming,” Susan explained. “There was a palpable sense of fear, and we didn’t know what we were going to see.”
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In March, she shared a photo of herself decked out in full personal protective equipment with Wynn by her side. The image went viral and became a true symbol of the heroism and sacrifice our health care workers bring to the table.
The compassionate doctor has raised Wynn for two years now, which means it’s time for the pup to go back to Canine Companions so they can determine what kind of service will best suit her. She could potentially become a therapy dog, a service animal for a veteran with PTSD, or a helper for a child with special needs.
While Susan is incredibly proud of the way Wynn has developed, she said giving her back to the program is “bittersweet.”
As it turns out, her coworkers in the emergency department felt the same way. On Wynn’s last day at the hospital, they turned out with signs, treats, and plenty of tears to say goodbye to their favorite canine companion!
Staff members shared precious memories of the times they had been feeling overwhelmed, only to have Wynn come along and bring some instant sunshine into their worlds. They hailed her as a hero and celebrated her unique contributions to fighting the pandemic.
“We all witnessed a lot this year. We had incredible camaraderie, we were the best team I ever imagined being around, and she was part of our team — she saw us through,” Susan said. “People would just pet her and break out into a smile when it was just the hardest day.”
While Susan is sad to say goodbye, she will always treasure the lessons she learned from Wynn.
“She taught me how to stay present in the worst year of our lives, and that’s a pretty big lesson,” the proud doctor said.
Service animals do such important work! We hope Wynn loves her new home, job, and humans as much as this hospital staff loves her.
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