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Service Dog Changed Boy’s Life

May 20, 2020

When Canis first tentatively allowed Homo to touch it some 30,000 years ago, neither could know that their friendship would grow and change into a relationship that would save lives and nourish souls.

Fast forward to 2020 and meet Crew Field and his dog, Boo. Crew is a 10-year-old boy who has suffered from epilepsy his entire life. Boo, a 2-year-old Goldendoodle (golden retriever and poodle mix), is helping Crew manage his seizures.

“The seizures were frequent and uncontrollable,” said Crew’s father, Chad Field, a surgical instrument company representative from Meridian. “We tried everything. We even took him to the University of Oregon for evaluation.”

The Oregon doctors recommended CBD oil, but it didn’t work, Field said. He and his wife, Lindsie, kept looking for anything to help their son.

Finally, a medical professional suggested they look into getting a service dog.

“Service dogs can serve many roles,” said Adam Gerson, assistant program manager for therapy dogs at Helping Idaho Dogs, Inc. The nonprofit organization’s motto is “Strengthening the canine-human relationship through education and compassionate interactions.”

But not all helping dogs are the same, according to the nonprofit’s website.

“Our organization is mostly made up of therapy dogs, not service dogs,” Gerson said, in a recent interview. Gerson has a black, 100-pound standard poodle named Stanley. “Service dogs are especially trained for specific tasks, whereas therapy dogs can fulfill many roles.”

Helping Idaho Dogs volunteer, Jennifer Rankin, and her dog, Cody, a white, 12-pound, 6-year-old Maltese and Shih Tzu mix, make rounds at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center on Curtis Avenue in Boise every Tuesday.

“Cody lasts about an hour, 90 minutes at most,” Rankin said as she checked in at the front desk in the lobby. Cody warms up by visiting staff in the oncology unit before heading into the outpatient infusion center.

“Some days we will go to the ICU visitor waiting room or the peds unit if he’s feeling up for it,” Rankin said. Cody clearly puts a lot of effort into his weekly rounds, trotting from room to room and patiently sitting still while being petted.

While checking in at the infusion unit nursing station, a nurse told Rankin that one of the patients was willing to have a picture with the dog.

Diane Markus wore a scarf over her head and her gown draped off of her right shoulder, exposing an infusion port just above her breast. “I just love dogs, even this little guy, even though I don’t know him,” she said, smiling as Rankin lifted Cody into the chair with her.

Helping Idaho Dogs’ Gerson is also the point of contact with Saint Alphonsus for scheduling therapy dog visits. He is a volunteer in the Healing Paws program, which develops and trains health care teams for animal assisted therapy and assistance in daily activities.

Gerson said it’s more complicated than it first appears. Dogs, and other animals such as cats and miniature horses, have different training for emotional support, assisted therapy, assisted education and assisted activities.

“I have always wanted to help people beyond my OSHA role as a compliance officer,” Gerson wrote in a recent email interview. “Working with HID allows me to do this.”

Darcel Pecyna started with Helping Idaho Dogs in 2012 and is the current director.

“For years I had wanted to be able to share my dog with other people to bring them the joy that only a well-behaved and trained pet can do,” Pecyna said in a recent email interview. “I’ve always believed in the powerful connections that happen between a person and a dog or other pet.”

Helping Idaho Dogs’ Gerson is also the point of contact with Saint Alphonsus for scheduling therapy dog visits. He is a volunteer in the Healing Paws program, which develops and trains health care teams for animal assisted therapy and assistance in daily activities.

Gerson said it’s more complicated than it first appears. Dogs, and other animals such as cats and miniature horses, have different training for emotional support, assisted therapy, assisted education and assisted activities.

“I have always wanted to help people beyond my OSHA role as a compliance officer,” Gerson wrote in a recent email interview. “Working with HID allows me to do this.”

Darcel Pecyna started with Helping Idaho Dogs in 2012 and is the current director.

“For years I had wanted to be able to share my dog with other people to bring them the joy that only a well-behaved and trained pet can do,” Pecyna said in a recent email interview. “I’ve always believed in the powerful connections that happen between a person and a dog or other pet.”

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