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Beloved canine moves on after helping hospital staff through a year of the pandemic


Staff members at a Denver hospital have said a sad goodbye to Wynn, their canine companion for nearly two years and a presence during the Covid-19 pandemic that proved especially helpful.

Wynn, a Labrador mix that’s going to become a service dog, walked out of the Rose Medical Center for the last time on February 10. Wynn had been accompanying Dr. Susan Ryan, a volunteer with Canine Companions for Independence, to her job in the emergency department.

“When Covid first happened, there was a palpable fear in the department,” Ryan said. “I don’t think any of us really knew what we were about to face.”

Wynn brought comfort during uncertain times.

Dealing with the virus “would have been probably a lot worse,” nurse Diane Callaghan said. She said Wynn had provided a much-needed crutch for much of the staff over the last year.

Callaghan recalled being upset one day while working with a dying patient. She started to cry, and she said the next thing she knew, Wynn had flopped onto her lap and rolled over, as if knowing that was exactly what the nurse needed.

Wynn also became a treasured source of comfort for paramedics, police officers and other staff throughout the facility. Hospital employees frequently came by for “puppy kisses.”

“She just had such a calming presence and just brought a smile to your day,” technician Annie Gray said.

Despite being heartbroken about Wynn’s departure, Ryan and her staff are grateful for their time with Wynn. Ryan has applied to receive a new puppy for the department.

“I’m realizing how special it was to have Wynn around,” nurse Raina Shah said. “I didn’t fully realize how much of an impact a dog can have.”

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