Man’s best friend

Golden retriever recovers from car accident to aid in patient therapy
Thursday, August 9, 2018

Photo by Logan Jeno

Nathan Shike sits with service dog Trap, who joined the staff at Big Horn County Memorial Hospital on Tuesday. The yellow lab was rescued in April by Hardin’s Help Every Pet (HEP) Club after a car accident. Therapy animals such as Trap are known to help patients keep emotionally healthy.

They say dog is man’s best friend, but this is especially true in the case of Nathan Shike and Trap.

Shike, 44, who resides at the Big Horn County Memorial Hospital in Hardin, suffered a car accident in 1999, rendering him a paraplegic. He stayed in Hardin for a year after moving from Billings – and in this time met Trap, a yellow lab.

From the first day, the two instantly became companions.

“He just sat right next to me like we’ve been buds for 20 years,” Shike said, “He really brightened my life up.”

Trap, like Shike, was involved in a car accident. After a car struck the dog, he was rescued in April by HEP Club, or Help Every Pet. He then was adopted by Tiffani Schubert, who worked at the hospital.

Trap had to get the ball of his femur removed, followed by six weeks of physical therapy and lots of attention. Schubert couldn’t give that while working, so she decided to take him with her to the hospital. She immediately found the dog had a calming presence on patients.

“It didn’t only help Trap recover, he got his strength back [and] it made patients feel better,” Schubert said. “We thought bringing Trap would be giving back to the community.”

According to Schubert, therapy animals help patients emotionally, lowering their blood pressure, calming them and making them feel more at home.

“A lot of research has shown the benefits of therapy dogs in rehab,” Schubert said.

Shike said Trap has helped to fill a void in his life – he recovered from his depression and even strove to become more active. He walks Trap twice a day when the dog visits the hospital.

Trap has been gone for the past month, receiving obedience training at Mountain Plains Kennel in South Dakota.

Chuck Hutchason, owner of the kennel, has adjusted training to accommodate Trap’s injuries. For instance, instead of a “sit” command, he did a “woah” – causing the dog to stop – since Trap cannot easily sit.

Hutchason believes Trap is a unique dog and worth the effort.

“We have some ideas of how to make a better life for the boy and to give him purpose,” he said. “He’s a very sweet dog, very receptive to people.”

Trap returned to Hardin on Aug. 3 with obedience certification and soon will begin working with patients.

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