Gabrielle Jacknin

Dec. 23, 2021

UCHealth pharmacy supervisor saves furry dog from captivity

Gabrielle Jacknin with her family and a special visitor — a fluffy Great Pyrenees. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Jacknin.

A fluffy Great Pyrenees recently got his first taste of snow while in the care of new friends. Were it not for a UCHealth employee’s compassion, he might have been locked up at the pound instead.

“He was so happy just running around with my dog, my kids and exploring,” said Gabrielle Jacknin, pharmacy supervisor in the emergency department at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital. That was certainly not the case two days earlier, when Jacknin spotted the pooch peering out nervously from an ED room.

“He was pacing and panting, and clearly trying to communicate that something was wrong with his owner,” said Jacknin.

The dog, a certified service animal, was stressed. His owner was hospitalized and the dog needed someone to take him outside.  Urgently.

Jacknin took the dog outside for a much-needed walk and relief, then returned him to his owner. Patients are allowed to keep their service animals with them in the hospital as long as they can provide for their basic needs. If they can’t, local family members often volunteer to keep the animal.

In this case, the patient had no family in town. Usually, the last resort is to call animal control to impound the dog. When the dog’s owner was admitted to the ICU, Jacknin said she dreaded making that call.

The UCHealth staff came up with a better solution. A resident agreed to take the hound for one night, but the dog’s owner remained in the hospital for a second day. A trip to an animal shelter appeared likely.

“He was so sweet and gentle, and the owner was the kindest man,” said Jacknin. “I couldn’t send him to dog jail.”

So the pup moved in for a stay with the Jacknin family.

“We had movie night with our kids, and he snuggled up like he had been a part of our family forever,” said Jacknin. “We took him on a 5-mile hike in Boulder with our dog, Lucy, and they had a blast running around together.”

The dog stayed for several nights while his owner recuperated. Eventually, Jacknin’s family bid farewell to their temporary, furry house guest, and she brought him back to UCH and returned him to his owner.

“It was all worth it to see the owner’s eyes light up when we brought his dog back to him.”