The volunteers and members of an organization that offers pet therapy to emergency health workers in B.C. are mourning the loss of a very special furry friend.
Burke, a friendly-faced Bernese Mountain dog was the original four-legged member of Hero Dawg – an organization that first started offering support at Vancouver General Hospital and has since expanded to all over the province.
In a statement Tuesday (July 11), Hero Dawg founder Carey McBeth announced he had succumbed to cancer in June.
Burke, who was affectionately known as Dogtor Burke, was welcomed and loved when on his visits, she said. Burke began the program as the first Hero Dawg. He had been diagnosed with lymphoma just seven weeks before he died on June 24 at the age of six.
“Burke’s life was short, but he was the very inspiration and pillar of HERO DAWGS. He never failed to provide endless energy and love on his many visits,” McBeth said.
Before his death, as a blood donor, Burke was able to give 10 other dogs a chance to live a happy life as he did.
To ensure his legacy lives on, the organization is inviting dog owners who are interested in joining their initiative to reach out and see if their loyal companion is suitable for the role and get to wear the coveted Hero Dawgs cape, just like Burke.
“Burke’s first visits were to those who suffered stress and exhaustion working in the COVID unit during the pandemic. Since then, HERO DAWGS has started an expansion campaign, and with Burke’s passing, the program needs more dogs,” McBeth said.
Those interested can visit herodawgs.org for more details.