Well over a year ago, Travis and Kevin, both supervisors of M Health Fairview Ambulance Operations, were discussing having Facility Dogs as part of their EMT programs. Not quite ready to take on the challenge himself, Travis remembers telling Kevin something like, “You do that and we’ll see what happens.”
Kevin did, bringing Can Do Canine Clayton on board at his Forest Lake location in 2022. The effects were immediate. It was then, after seeing the positive interactions that Clayton was having that Travis thought, “I’m in!”
So, in Summer 2023, Travis introduced Facility Dog Ian to his co-workers at the St. Paul EMS station. Travis says, “It’s so crazy how having a dog in the building just changes people’s mood and mentality.”
That ability to alter negative emotions is a big reason why Ian is in this role. This beautiful red-colored yellow Lab knows just how to take the load off others. Travis explains that when staff members are talking and reliving a difficult experience, “A hard discussion would be harder without Ian in the room. Every day, he does things that having him here for that moment was what got us to the next step.”
Ian’s skills are on display when out in the community too. He is at Travis’s side during EMS presentations at elementary schools and gladly takes his place on the ambulance during “Show and Shares.” Travis said that while at a park this past summer, “We had a line waiting to get in the ambulance the whole four hours because Ian was in it. He hammed it up.”
This docile dog can easily tap into his strength for soothing. The team is assigned to provide medical support during events at Alliance Field. One time, a lost child was so upset that police officers were not able to get the child to communicate with them. “Bringing Ian into the picture allowed the child to be redirected and calm down,” shares Travis.
Fully realizing the power of Ian’s presence, Travis’s hope for the future is to “introduce more four-legged creatures to health care.” Travis considers Ian a “unique gift” and intends on doing “whatever we can do to pay it forward.” Because now that he has seen what happens with a Facility Dog, he’s all in!
Thank you to all those who made this partnership possible:
Whelping Home — Kolleen Herr
Raisers — Anita Boucher & Jeff Bangsberg, Jerry Schendel, Linda Wang
Special Thanks — Jackson Correctional Institution