Tracy and Therapy Dog Joe

Naval Health Branch Clinic – Andrews Air Force Base, MD

As manager of one of the largest and most comprehensive clinics located at Andrews Air Force Base, overseeing the care of some of the most distinguished military personnel critical to national security, from Navy Seals to the pilots who run reconnaissance missions over Washington, D.C., Lt. Tracy Krauss has a front row seat to the physical and emotional toll these military personnel face every day. In the past 6 months, there were numerous attempted suicides with one succeeding — a young individual who gave no outward signs of distress until it was too late.Lt. Krauss, an avid dog lover, heard of our Facility Therapy Dogs working at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and after speaking with staff members there decided to apply for a Facility Therapy Dog for her clinic through our Veteran Service Dog program. She hoped that this dog would improve the morale of the patients and staff and enhance the rapport between patients and doctors.

Enter “Joe”, a 2 and a half year old Black and Tan Labrador who seemed to have been born for this job and purpose. Our trainers referred Joe to the Veteran Service Dog program after it became evident that he did not want to lead but rather follow and interact with everyone who came in his path. And that is when a whole new path opened up for Joe in his new position as the official Facility Therapy Dog for the Andrews Air Force Base.

And it was love at first sight. Lt. Krauss and Joe bonded immediately, as did her husband and children and two family dogs. But, while it was expected that they would get along fine, it was at the clinic where Joe’s special gifts were soon realized &em; on his very first day of work!

Joe’s entrance into the clinic on that first day couldn’t be missed: Upon his arrival there, Joe promptly picked up his own leash and trotted happily behind Lt. Krauss to the waiting room where they greeted the military personnel waiting &em; some bored, some angry, some anxious, some sad &em; all smiling when leaving the waiting room for their medical appointments.

And this was just Day One. Mission accomplished, with much more to come.

Images and biography courtesy of Southeastern Guide Dogs