Dr. Christopher Brown, a family care doctor at the Ellinwood Clinic, brought a new face to work last week. That face was a little furrier than normal: as a yellow Labrador retriever, she was different than most visitors to the Hospital and Clinic.
Melody serves as the service dog for Dr. Brown’s son, Ethan. While Ethan was traveling, Melody was able to stay with Dr. Brown and see patients in the Clinic for three days and make rounds at the Hospital.
Dr. Brown brought Melody to work in hopes of educating and raising awareness with the public about service dogs and their importance. “Having Melody with me allows me to open up the conversation about service dogs,” states Dr. Brown. “It’s important for everyone to understand the importance of these dogs to their handlers; they are part of a team.”
Dr. Brown and his nurse, Lisa Baker, LPN, worked closely with Melody while she was here, and asked patients if they would like Melody to attend appointments. Most patients agreed to allow her.
This wasn’t Melody’s first time in a medical setting, either. Her “puppy raiser” is an office manager at a surgical practice in Kansas City. A puppy raiser is responsible for teaching the puppy basic obedience, house and public manners, and socialization. Melody spent her first two years going to work with her puppy raiser.
“It was great seeing Melody in the hospital,” reports Kayla Winder, Director of Nursing. “Our patients loved having her visit, and she did exceptionally well.”
Service dogs are specially trained to provide assistance to people with physical disabilities, from individuals who use wheelchairs for mobility to those requiring a steady four-legged partner to balance them as they walk. Some of their skills include retrieving dropped or selected items, assisting in dressing and undressing, pulling wheelchairs, bracing for balance or transfers, turning lights on and off, and opening and closing a variety of different types of doors.
Melody was trained and provided to Ethan through KSDS, Inc., a special training service and facility for guide, service, and social dogs, located in Washington, Kansas.
KSDS began as Kansas Specialty Dog Service and was incorporated as a non-profit with assistance from the State of Kansas Department of Rehabilitation Services and additional support from individual donors. KSDS is celebrating 25 years of service and has placed over 500 assistance teams. For more information about assistance dogs and KSDS, visit www.ksds.org.