Hero Service Dog Gets Bittersweet Send Off

Wynn comforted Denver hospital staff during the pandemic as a service dog trainee.

Feb 20, 2021

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Hero Service Dog Gets Bittersweet Send Off | Wynn comforted Denver hospital staff during the pandemic as a service dog trainee.

A very special service dog in training  just received a bittersweet sendoff  from the emergency staff at Rose Medical Center in Denver, Colorado. She has spent the last two-years bringing comfort to the hospital workers in the toughest of times and was called a hero during the emotional celebration.

Wynn, a 2-year-old lab, was honored for her work during the coronavirus pandemic according to KDR News. Her story went viral in March 2020 when her volunteer trainer, Dr. Susan Ryan posted a picture of Wynn on social media.

Ryan raised Wynnfor Canine Companions for Independence knowing that the beloved dog would have to be returned to the organization for future training. Wynn could end up helping a child with disabilities, a veteran with PTSD, or as a full-fledged service dog at another medical facility. When former president George H.W. Bush’s former service dog Sully was reassigned, he became an emotional support dog at Walter Reed in Maryland.

But Wynn’s work at Rose Medical center really made a difference in so many lives. “In the beginning it [the pandemic] was really overwhelming. There was a palpable sense of fear and we didn’t know what we were going to see,” Ryan told KDR.

“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,” said the emergency room physician. “People would just pet her and break out into a smile when it was just the hardest day.” That’s why this parting is so bittersweet.

Wynn is not the only service dog to comfort hospital workers during the pandemic. Loki (known as the dogster) is assisting frontline workers in Baltimore by delivering care packages of moisturizers, lip balms and other essentials to the Maryland Medical Center’s staff.

Still, Ryan is proud of the work she did with Wynn. “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,” the doctor told People.

Therapy pets are vital emotional support for hospital workers during these times of social distancing and lockdowns. Ryan said: “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.” So let’s give a paws up for the hero therapy dog!

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Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.