The following was submitted by Tianna Langelotz, Advanced Care Paramedic in Wadena, SK.
There's nothing more heartwarming than walking into a building and seeing everyone's eyes light up and smiles appear on their faces. That's what happens when I bring Rush, my two-year-old purebred Great Dane, to visit residents at the Wadena Hospital and Pleasantview Long Term Care facility.
It's not just residents who have that reaction but also staff. Rush is a bit of a celebrity, and people come to see him from all over the hospital when they hear he's visiting. To know that Rush is the highlight of people's day makes it all worthwhile.
Rush, a two-year-old purebred Great Dane, and Tianna, an Advanced Care Paramedic in Wadena, SK. Together, they are a certified Therapy Dog team with St. John's Ambulance.
I waited three years for the perfect Great Dane to join my family, and I got my wish in June of 2015. He arrived from British Columbia at 10 weeks of age and within his first week on Saskatchewan soil, he was visiting residents at the Wadena Hospital and Pleasantview Long Term Care facility.
Even at ten weeks of age, Rush had an old soul and a natural-born ability to understand there was a time to be a rambunctious puppy, and a time to be calm and collected. Right from when he walked through the doors of the Wadena Hospital for the first time, he exhibited a maturity far beyond his young age.
As he has gotten older, Rush's disposition has stayed the same. He's the type of dog who thrives on attention. In his mind, everyone at the hospital or nursing home is there to see him and give him love – he doesn't understand that he's giving the same thing back to them.
While Rush loves everyone, he has formed a few special bonds over the last two years. There's one gentleman, in particular, who keeps to himself and is often asleep in a chair when we visit. He and Rush have always adored one another. Rush walks up to him and, even if the gentleman is asleep, without hesitation Rush places his head on the man's chest and waits for him to wake up. This man is always so happy to see Rush. He wraps his arms around him, and the two of them just sit there enjoying each other's company. It sounds like such a simple thing, but it means so much to both of them.
I enjoy sharing Rush. He brings me such happiness, and does the same for so many other people. My job as an Advanced Care Paramedic can be a stressful one, but there's something about watching Rush interact with others and put a smile on their faces that calms and centres me. Visiting with Rush as a Therapy Dog team is as much "therapy" for me as it is for the people we visit.
I often visit the same healthcare facilities when I'm working, but there is not always time to slow down and chat with people. Stopping in with Rush lets me get to know the residents and staff on a different level, and it's a great opportunity to give back to the community I work in.
Rush is such a special dog, and I look forward to seeing how we can continue giving back to our community in different ways.