Ken Cruise and his sloppy kisser Bailey, the therapy dog.
SUBMITTED BY NATE GUSTAFSON
BROOKDALE HOSPICE OF DENVER
Volunteer coordinator, Brookdale Hospice of Denver
“Bailey is a sloppy kisser,” Centennial resident Ken Cruise says about his rescued retriever turned therapy dog.
A runaway, Bailey appeared to be a pure-bred Labrador retriever doing his time in the county animal shelter when adopted him in 2009 as a Mother’s Day present for his wife. It’s unclear whether Cruise chose Bailey or Bailey chose Cruise.
Bailey’s age is also a mystery. Cruise estimates that Bailey may be close to 14 years-old. What is clear is that Bailey and Cruise are a perfect match.
When the manager of the pet store noticed Bailey and Cruise taking obedience classes, he asked Cruise if he had ever thought about taking Bailey through therapy dog training.
Therapy dog training and service was not on his mind according to Cruise. “I didn’t know anything about it at the time,” Cruise stated. He couldn’t imagine how this path of service might change both of their lives.
After completing more training, Cruise registered with Therapy Dogs International (TDI) in 2010 and the pair passed their evaluations on their first attempt. Once recognized as an official therapy dog team, they began visiting at local Brookdale Senior Living communities in Aurora and Greenwood Village, then they added one stop a week at Someren Glenn Retirement Community in Centennial.
Cruise also began to spend extra special time with Brookdale Hospice patients and family members. Bailey will even spend time comforting individuals and family members during a person’s final hours. Cruise will help an individual feel Bailey’s fur or bring some extra comfort to a grieving family member during these special visits.
Since 2010, the two have made over 500 stops at their senior living communities and provided extra support at last year’s 9 Health Fair at Someren Glen. At each stop, they see 10 or more individuals, which means over 5,000 encounters during their eight years of volunteer service.
TDI will recognize Cruise and Bailey in early 2019 for their 500 visits. Also, on Jan. 17, Cruise received the monthly Hospice Caregiver Award presented by Horan and McConaty Funeral Homes based in Denver.
When people ask Cruise how much longer he and Bailey will keep making visits, he always replies, “We’ll keep doing this as long as Bailey enjoys it and can do it.” No one can deny that this sloppy kisser and his constant companion were destined to make people smile.
2018 All Rights Reserved. Villager Publishing |