‘Hero’ Service Dog Gets Send-Off Party After Comforting Hospital Staff During Pandemic

Soon-to-be service dog Wynn got a sweet farewell from emergency room staff at Rose Medical Center in Denver.

The animal was credited for emotionally supporting the health care heroes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wynn was with the hospital for two years where emergency physician, Dr. Susan Ryan, volunteered to be her puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence – a company that provides assistance dogs to people in need.  

"In the beginning it was really overwhelming. There was a palpable sense of fear and we didn't know what we were going to see," Dr. Ryan told KDVR of the start of the pandemic. 

She added, "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."

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The ER staff held the send-off party on Thursday and made signs for Wynn calling her a "hero."

"People would just pet her and break out into a smile when it was just the hardest day," Dr. Ryan continued.

Wynn will go on to receive more vigorous training to determine what kind of service dog she'll be. The dog could help anyone from veterans suffering PTSD to children with special needs or even become a faculty dog helping patients in hospitals. 

"It's a proud moment and it's a sad moment. She taught me how to stay present in the worst year of our lives and that's a pretty big lesson," Dr. Ryan said.

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In March last year, Wynn went viral after the hospital shared the positive impact she had on the staff during the stressful rise of COVID-19.

"She's a calm presence, she grounds us. Everybody goes and seeks her out when they need just an extra bit of a minute to pet her, snuggle or kiss her," Dr. Ryan told KDVR of Wynn at the time.

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The emergency physician then touched on why an emotional support animal is beneficial to some especially during the pandemic.  

"The data behind what a dog and human bond can do, to break down the walls of isolation, which is really important in this time when people are physically distancing. They don't have to be socially or emotionally distant," she said. 

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