Future service dog comforts medical staff at Denver hospital, becomes social media favorite

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DENVER (KDVR) — Dr. Susan Ryan didn’t realize what she was sharing with the world when she posted a photo of herself and her service dog in training, Wynn, sitting on the hospital floor at Rose Medical Center.

“I started getting messages from people in other countries and they said they were so touched by it. When that happened, I didn’t really think about my own privacy or Wynn’s. I just thought, ‘This is touching people and they’re really having a hard time right now,'” Ryan said, an emergency physician at Rose Medical Center.

Ryan is volunteering to raise Wynn through the nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence. She’s tasked with socializing the puppy and providing basic training before Wynn heads off to be professionally trained as a service dog.

Ryan regularly brought Wynn to the hospital before the COVID-19 outbreak. She says now, Wynn provides an even greater level of comfort for staff.

“She’s a calm presence, she grounds us. Everybody goes and seeks her out when they need just an extra bit of a minute to pet her, snuggle or kiss her,” said Ryan.

She says Wynn doesn’t seem to be aware of the impact she’s having on hospital staff and people around the world. She hopes the photo that’s gone viral continues to help others during this unprecedented time.

“The data behind what a dog and human bond can do, to break down the walls of isolation, which is really important in this time when people are physically distancing. They don’t have to be socially or emotionally distant,” said Ryan.

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