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Pet Patrol Dog Brings Calm, Happiness to Hospital Patient

Posted on: July 3, 2015

For Ross Riggs and his dog Gunner, it was just a quiet evening of visiting people at Mercy. Yet, for a patient without the ability to communicate and her deeply concerned nurse, Gunner's presence meant calm and peace.

Ross and Gunner - Mercy Pet Patrol 2015

Ross Riggs, a Mercy Pet Patrol volunteer, shares an experience he had one evening visiting Mercy Medical Center patients.

Something happened during my shift last night that I just want to share with you. It was amazing but not because of anything I did. It was just great to be part of it. 

When I first arrived on the floor, I went to the nurses station. There, one of the nurses was sharing with another nurse about something that was difficult. I don't what the issue was. Suddenly, the nurse turned and saw Gunner and immediately reached out to pet him.

He then said to Gunner, "How did you know I really needed you tonight?"

The nurse then asked if I had been to a specific room yet, and I told him no. He said he had a patient that was non-communicative with mental insufficiency and hoped she would respond to Gunner.

When we approached the patient, she made it clear she did not want to meet Gunner. So, I simply got down next to her bed and gave her one of Gunner’s cards. About an hour later, I stopped by the woman's room again. The nurse who had petted Gunner earlier was there with another nurse. I asked if the patient had changed her mind about visiting with Gunner, and the original nurse said he didn’t know. The second nurse, however, told me that the patient had not stopped looking at Gunner’s picture since I had left. 

The nurses walked out of the room, and I motioned to the patient. She didn’t seem upset like she was the first time. So, I moved forward and brought Gunner to her. She didn’t pet him, but she looked at him for several minutes and became calm and happy. Later, after I told the nurse what happened, his spirits were immediately lifted, as well. 

I felt like this visit was definitely “a God thing.” 

Do you live near Canton, Ohio, and have a dog that would be ideal for Mercy Pet Patrol? Learn more about our volunteer program here: cantonmercy.org/volunteer/pet-patrol.

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