One of the most important jobs at Denkai Community Veterinary Clinic belongs to a pit bull puppy named Dominic.
Dominic came to the clinic after police found his mother and her litter of puppies in a Denver home during a raid. Denver has a ban on pit bulls, so the animals were transported to Denkai in Eaton, Colo.
Vet technician Stephany Haswell offered to foster a couple of puppies, so she brought Dominic and one of his siblings home.
To her surprise, her family and three dogs bonded quickly with Dominic, but Haswell was determined not to adopt another pet.
However, it took time to find forever homes for the puppies. (Many pit bull advocates argue that the breed isn't the problem — it’s the people who raise them.)
Haswell encountered many such people as she searched for homes for Dominic and the rest of the litter. Several people interested in adopting the pit bulls refused home visits or were unwilling to undergo a background check.
By the time Haswell finally found a home for one of the puppies, she and her family were no longer willing to let go of Dominic.
Dominic began accompanying Haswell to work so her older dogs could get a break from the rambunctious puppy.
She worried Dominic would be a nuisance at the clinic, but the puppy surprised everyone when he found himself a job.
One morning, clinic staff set a dog just out of surgery on a pillow outside the operating room, and Dominic immediately settled down next to him.
At first, Haswell thought Dominic was simply cold, but later that day she watched him nestle into a pile of dogs just out of surgery. He rested his head on them when they cried, and the dog that whined the most got the most cuddle time.
The clinic staff were stunned.
"I was actually walking through our veterinary clinic and stopped dead in my tracks as I watched Dominic literally walk over to two of our post-surgery patients as one was beginning to wake up and sort of struggle," said Denkai Animal Sanctuary President Floss Blackburn. "He calmly laid down between the two of them and put his head on that dog's shoulder. The dog immediately relaxed."
Since then, both clinic staff and patients have welcomed Dominic’s post-surgery cuddles.
Dogs waking up from surgery can be frightened or even aggressive, but when Dominic lies with them, the animals wake up calm and rested.
Dominic even cuddles with cats post-surgery. However, they're not quite as grateful as the dogs.
The pit bull puppy now has a part-time job. Every day he's at the clinic, he waits at the door until vet techs bring a dog out and lay him on the pillow. Then Dominic takes his place, cuddling the animal until he awakes.
"Animals are incredible and so sensitive," Blackburn said. "If people would watch more and observe, I think that they would see these things in their animals."
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