Mike Kocabinski loves on Duncan at Avera St. Luke's. Duncan is Shannon Wright's certified therapy dog.
It's been said "in a perfect world, every dog would have a home and every home would have a dog." For people living in nursing homes or recovering in hospital beds, time can stand still without their 4-legged best friends. Nancy Naeve Brown has more on how Avera St. Luke's in Aberdeen is implementing dog therapy into a new wing of the hospital.
Mike Kocabinski from Aberdeen is a dog lover. He loves they know no evil or jealousy or discontent. To err is human, to forgive, canine. Recently he spent a week in Avera St. Luke's Behavioral Health Unit and was overjoyed when Army Reservist SGT Shannon Wright brought in her certified therapy dog Duncan.
Mike says, "Just the fact they are so loving they don't care what kind of mood you're in crabby as heck or down in the dumps or whatever. They don't care. They love you no matter what, with no prerequisite. It's meant so much."
To implement therapy dogs in this part of the hospital is a new way of thinking by therapists and everyone seems to be embracing it.
Barb Koch Therapeutic Recreation Specialist at Avera St. Luke's says, "Dogs tend to be calmer, more loving unconditionally, more accepting than humans. Cats are wonderful, but they are independent and dogs are more trainable and people just love them."
Shannon was taking Duncan through the pediatric unit when a nurse manager spotted her and said why don't we try this in the behavioral health wing. It turned out to be a really good idea.
Barb says, "In behavioral health the clientele is very depressed, a lot of hopelessness and I can tell you from the working with this dog for the last year, 4 years really, they bring such smiles and joy to these people even if it's just for a few minutes."
Mike is on 100% disability and has qualified for getting his own therapy dog. He says meeting Duncan while he was a patient at the hospital reaffirms he's doing the right thing.
Mike says, "I'm seriously looking forward to getting a dog and helping others like being around Duncan has helped me."
This dog gladly takes bear hugs in stride because he knows he's doing what comes naturally; to please. He may not realize that in the process he's also helping to ease patient's pain. Therapy wrapped in fur sealed with a shake.