Remembering Gabriel

March 14, 2012

Salida, Colorado--HRRMC's beloved canine ambassador, Gabriel, a seven-year-old golden retriever, passed away on Monday, March 12.

Gabriel and his owner, Gill Engles, began visiting HRRMC patients and staff in 2009, shortly after moving to Salida from Rhode Island. The two made weekly rounds at the hospital except for a brief hiatus when they returned temporarily to the East Coast before settling again in Salida.

Gill and Gabriel were registered Delta Society Pet Partners. "When Gabriel was about 1, I was living in Rhode Island and saw a special on CNN about Pet Partners," recalled Gill. "I said to Gabriel, we're going to do that."

The Delta Society is a national program that screens and trains volunteers and their pets to visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools and other facilities. Each year, over 1 million people benefit from the volunteer work of Delta Society Pet Partners.

Generally dogs must be at least two years old to be registered, but the Delta Society evaluator passed Gabriel at 22 months old-the youngest dog ever certified.

After Gabriel aced an interview at Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I., the two began visiting cancer patients twice a week there. They continued their therapeutic visits after moving to Salida. Over the years, they visited thousands of patients together.
Gabriel brought comfort to the bedsides of many of HRRMC's patients and will be greatly missed.

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