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Cain the K-9 spreads smiles throughout Spectrum Health

Posted at 7:49 AM, Nov 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-14 07:49:27-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich - Hospital stays can be stressful and scary, especially for kids. But one Spectrum Health employee is making that experience a little more enjoyable.

Cain the K-9 has a serious job of protecting Butterworth and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospitals, but he’s also  there to keep patients calm and happy.

Knocking on doors and spreading smiles is what Cain, the German Shepherd and his handler, Officer John McGarry, it’s what their job is all about.

He said, “He loves to give kids kisses, and they'll just light up and even though they're not doing so well, they'll smile."

For Analiese Postema, having Cain hop up into her hospital bed is a bright spot in her day.

She said, “He was nice. It was a fun surprise, I've never actually met a police dog like that before."

Cain also puts worried parents at ease.

Laurie Postema, Analiese’s mom said, “They have some really nice things here for the children at the hospital, things you might expect: movies and excellent staff, and activities they can get involved in, but she was definitely surprised by the dog this morning."

Cain underwent intense police training in the Netherlands for 2 years before coming to the U.S., meaning he understands Dutch, German, English, and hand commands.

Between the laughs though, officer McGarry admits, many days are tough, knowing that some kids’ visit with Cain will be their last.

He said, “Even through all that, at least they were able to smile for one last time."

But the pair gets through it together, creating a special bond and even more special memories.

Officer McGarry said, "One of his tricks is to have a seat, so I pull up a chair, he jumps up and sits in it. Cain leans over and this guy reaches up and starts petting Cain and all of sudden, all the staff in the room starts bawling. The nurses told me that he hadn’t been able to move and he reached up and was petting this dog."

Spectrum has 3 police K-9’s right now, and will be adding a fourth before the end of the year. For now, Cain is perfectly fine keeping all the patients for himself, making a bigger impact than he’ll ever know.

Officer McGarry said, “I’ve had parents come back and tell me, ‘Hey if it weren’t for you, my child wouldn’t have gotten better.’ They firmly believe that we had a big part in that."