A therapy dog that comforted countless area veterans, hospice patients and children with disabilities died Wednesday.
Kiki served as a therapy dog for nine years, said her owner, Julie Hoffman.
”She did not know a stranger and could sense when someone was going through rough times and would console them with her presence,” Hoffman said.
Kiki came to Hoffman by way of Kansas City Doberman Rescue in October 2008. Hoffman took Kiki to visit veterans and nursing home patients and got her certified as a Pet Partners therapy dog.
“She became so good at what she did,” Hoffman said.
The two regularly visited Topeka’s Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center, St. Francis Hospital and several nursing homes. They also visited children with special needs when requested.
Hoffman recalled one veteran with whom Kiki had a particularly strong bond. The Doberman knew exactly what room the man lived in when they visited. One day, he wasn’t there. Hoffman was told he was in critical condition in the intensive care unit. When the man later returned to his regular floor for end-of-life care, Hoffman said, she was told he wouldn’t recognize Kiki when they visited.
But the man called out Kiki’s name, Hoffman said, and the dog laid with the man until he died.
In 2014, Hoffman and Kiki received the Judith Fellton Memorial Award.
Kiki was diagnosed with lung cancer about two weeks ago. Her last therapy visit was May 12. She underwent surgery Wednesday, but didn’t recover.
“Such a special dog who has left a hole in so many people’s hearts — a really big one in mine,” Hoffman said.