‘Ranger’ becomes first dog to join Northside's volunteer staff

Posted on: October 07, 2016


From left: Volunteers Dave Frew and Ranger along with Carol Kratochvil, manager of volunteer services at Northside Hospital Atlanta; Rev. Amani Legagneur, manager of Northside Hospital Spiritual Health and Education and Rev. Brent Bond, lead chaplain of Northside Hospital Spiritual Health and Education.Northside Hospital Spiritual Health & Education has welcomed its newest staff member — Ranger Frew — an English setter therapy dog with a nose for comforting patients, their families and even medical staff.

“Ranger is very gentle, kind and he’s easy for patients to interact with,” said Dave Frew, who has been Ranger’s handler for 11 years. “We touch the lives of so many people.”

Carol Kratochvil, volunteer services manager at Northside Hospital-Atlanta, said Ranger will be part of the hospital’s spiritual health and education services.

“Sometimes you just want to sit quietly with Ranger,” Kratochvil said. “He provides companionship, nurture and comfort through a difficult time.”

Rev. Amani Legagneur, M.Div., manager of spiritual health and education, said, in many ways, Ranger represents the animals that are in a patient’s life at home and they’re unable to access. 

“He’s also a conduit for love, affection and compassion in a way that some human beings have more boundaries or difficulties communicating,” she said. “It’s just this absolutely beautiful and muted way of connecting with another living being. Ranger, in particular, has special gifts for that.” 

This is not the first pet-therapy service Northside has provided patients. Northside works closely with Happy Tails to offer support and companionship to women on the hospital’s high risk perinatal, surgical, orthopedics and bariatric units. But Ranger is the first dog to officially become part of the hospital’s volunteer staff. 

In addition to his work at Northside, Ranger has worked as a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) comfort “crisis response” dog, providing relief to those dealing with a disaster.

“We know that happiness impacts medical outcomes, so there is an actual physical component to this,” Legagneur said. “But a lot of it is about the emotional and spiritual healing capacity that happens when we interact with sources of love — and Ranger is a big source of love.” 

For volunteer opportunities, visit northside.com/auxiliary-volunteers

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