Assistance Dogs at Craig Hospital

October 24, 2012 · Posted in Assistance Dogs, Guide Dogs, Puppyraisers, Service Dogs 
Retired guide dog HeatherRetired guide dog Heather

Recently my husband Franz, Whistle, and I traveled to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado, for my annual physical and re-evaluation of my disability-related medical needs. I’ve been coming to Craig for over 10 years. They are consistently¬† recognized as one of the top rehabilitation facilities in the country.

During my stays throughout the years, I have noticed one or two other assistance dogs beside Whistle. But during this visit, I have noticed a significant increase in the number of outpatients who are accompanied by an assistance dog.

In addition to service dogs, I also was excited to take a peek at the recreational calendar for the week to see what fun things were happening. Every day there was one or more different therapy dogs who were visiting both inpatients and outpatients. I met a lovely volunteer named Connie. She was accompanied by Heather, a former guide dog who had developed some health issues and had to be retired. Heather made a perfect therapy dog.
We also got to stop by and meet four-month-old, yellow lab Otis. Otis is a Canine Companions for Independence puppy in training. He was nestled under the desk of his puppyraiser and Craig employee, Jeni Exley.

There is also Emil, a yellow lab that works with his partner, Becki, in Follow-up Services.¬† The first thing Whistle and I noticed was Emil’s luxurious bed that was in the patient waiting area.

Everywhere we’ve turned this week I’ve heard wheelchairs bustling through the hallways and the beautiful sound of collars jingling as service dogs and their human partners are busily traveling the Craig Hospital corridors. Thank goodness for innovative medical facilities like Craig that truly understand and support the role assistance dogs play in the independence of the patients they serve.

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