Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fraser: 9 Years of Reaching Out and Touching Lives

by Daniel Ronquillo
Animal Therapy Coordinator
Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals
VRPS Senior Resource Group Past Chair
VRPS Senior Resource Group Annual Conference Committee
VRPS Strategic Planning Committee

It is with deep sorrow that I share with each of you the death of my dear companion, Fraser, CJW Medical Center Therapy Dog.

After a diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer in the spring of 2016, Fraser fought valiantly for several months, during which he continued visiting patients and staff, continuing to reach out to everyone, as always, through his many years of service.  Though it was very emotional, Fraser was at home with the entire family during his final moments, as he passed away late afternoon on January 7, 2017 at the age of 11 years and 8 months.

Fraser was born May 6, 2005, in California, under the care of Canine Companions for Independence (CCI).  Within two to three months of age, he was transported to Richmond, Virginia, where he was assigned to CCI Puppy Raiser, Cindy Morrison.  Over the next year and a half he learned the skills needed, in preparation for his eventual graduate training to become a Service Dog.  He was then sent to New York, on Long Island, to the CCI Northeast Headquarters, in early 2007 for graduate school.  Unable to match him with an individual, Fraser was released and returned to Richmond to Cindy and her family.

During his early years of training, I continued my work, behind the scenes, for what would be the start of the new CJW Medical Center Pet Therapy Program.  During the final stages of initiating the program, Fraser suddenly became available, with little time for preparation.  In the fall of 2007, Fraser officially became the first Therapy Dog for the new CJW Medical Center Pet Therapy Program.

The rest is history, as Fraser began his long career of reaching out, and touching the lives of countless patients on both campuses of Chippenham and Johnston-Willis Hospital.  Not only reaching out to patients, Fraser also touched the lives of many staff, and family, and had the opportunity to reach out to the entire Richmond Community through the local media.  Though every therapy dog will be honored for their service, in touching the lives of many, it has often been described by those who knew Fraser the best, that his soul was truly unique in its ability and intuitive nature, and that there will never be a therapy dog in comparison to Fraser.  As he approached his final days, Fraser selflessly served CJW Medical Center and his community for over nine years.  Fraser was a true companion to all who crossed his path, touching each of their lives through his empathy and selfless, enduring love.