Franciscan Childrenâ€™s Hospitalâ€™s newest employee, Marcus, had an excellent first day on the job.
He did spend much of the afternoon yesterday gobbling treats out of the nurse managerâ€™s hand. Marcus is a 20-month-old black lab who has been trained to act as a therapy dog for the pediatric patients.
â€śThe kids knew he was coming and they were thrilled to visit him,â€ť said Franciscan Childrenâ€™s CEO Aimee Carew-Lyons. â€śThereâ€™s not enough of Marcus to go around.â€ť
Marcus was raised and trained by professionals at NEADS, a nonprofit based in Princeton that has provided more than 1,700 service dogs to people with disabilities and hearing loss.
â€śHeâ€™s been training all his life,â€ť said Julie Jankun, a Franciscan Childrenâ€™s nurse manager who will provide Marcus with a home outside of the hospital.
The facility applied for a service dog just a few months ago, and Carew-Lyons said the lovable lab will provide patients with comfort, entertainment and companionship for many years.
â€śYouâ€™ve got tubes sticking out of your nose, you have tubes sticking out of your neck, if you have things attached to your head, dogs donâ€™t care. They love you unconditionally and they love the kids,â€ť she said.
After Marcus greeted several of the patients, tail wagging, Boston Marathon Bombing survivor Patrick Downes read to them from the book he wrote with his wife, Jessica Kensky. The childrenâ€™s book, â€śRescue and Jessica,â€ť details Kenskyâ€™s bond with her own NEADS service dog, Rescue.
â€śBy the time they get to you, theyâ€™ve gone through the Harvard school of dog training,â€ť Downes said. â€śWe were so blown away by what Rescue was capable of doing, not only in terms of task work, but his emotional connection to us, and how he was so loyal. Whenever we needed him he was there for us, and I hope these kids feel the same thing.â€ť
Marcusâ€™ new role at Franciscan Childrenâ€™s was made possible through donors Mike and Susan Curtain and the Kenrose Kitchen Table Foundation.