Dog, patient reunited

By on July 13, 2016
Deb Bucia (front) and her dog Max were reunited with the help of (back row, left to right) Wanda Williams, clinical coordinator; Audrey Muskee, practice manager; and Lindsey Miller, office assistant; at WellSpan Family and Sports Medicine Cocalico. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Deb Bucia (front) and her dog Max were reunited with the help of (back row, left to right) Wanda Williams, clinical coordinator; Audrey Muska, practice manager; and Lindsey Miller, office assistant; at WellSpan Family and Sports Medicine Cocalico. Photo by Preston Whitcraft

Thanks to the efforts of two staff members of WellSpan Family & Sports Medicine Cocalico, Deborah “Deb” Bucia is reunited with her emotional support dog, Max.

The 57-year-old Berks County resident, who suffers from severe depression, adopted Max, a chihuahua, from the Humane Society Adoption Center in Reading about six years ago. Prior to that her service dog was a German shepherd.

She explained that having Max with her makes a huge difference in her life, which she describes as a being bit challenging over the past few months.

“Max knows my mood,” she said. “Sometimes he will pull the covers off me to indicate that he has to go out. He’s my rock.”

Max was one year old at the time she adopted him, and Bucia said that he had been abused.

“It took him nearly three months to get used to my late husband, Bob, and our sons,” she said. A caregiver by profession, Bucia was also her husband’s caregiver for several years prior to his death in June 2015. Her sister and mother live in Frederick, Md., and she helps her sister take care of their mother.

Max goes everywhere with her including work.

“He makes everyone smile and that helps me as well as the people around me,” she said.

Her housing situation has been a bit unstable over the past few months, and she’s been living with a friend in Wyomissing. On June 16, she went to look at an apartment, but left Max at the friend’s home. The friend was at work, but her cat and Max were there together. Bucia said that the cat is very adept and managed to open the outside door. The open door was an open invitation for Max to explore, and when Bucia returned, she found that Max was not there.

“I always take Max with me, but for some reason I didn’t do that. I was only gone for 45 minutes, but when I got back Max was nowhere to be found. His blanket was there, and I had his collar. I looked for him and called an animal hospital, but I didn’t have a lot of time. I had to leave for my appointment at WellSpan,’ she explained adding that Max is microchipped, but her contact information has not been updated.

She had broken her left foot in two places and sprained the right ankle over Memorial Day weekend. She had had an x-ray earlier that day and had to visit the WellSpan practice to discuss the results.

At the physician’s office both Lindsey Miller, physician office clinical assistant, and licensed practical nurse Wanda Williams noticed that Bucia was extremely upset when she came in for her appointment.

“We noticed that she didn’t have Max with her, and that was unusual — he’s always with her,” Miller said.

When they found out that Max was missing, they both went into action. Williams said that she and her co-worker live in the same area as Bucia, so they knew some places to check. While Miller was contacting the Animal Rescue League, Williams was posting information about the missing service dog on Facebook.

They learned that a chihuahua was found by a policeman at a Wawa near Bucia’s temporary home and was taken to the Animal Rescue League of Berks County.

“But the description they gave me didn’t match Deb’s description of Max,” Miller explained.

They passed along the information to Bucia, who went to the animal shelter right after her appointment. Luckily the dog there was Max.

“It made total sense that he was found at that Wawa. I frequently stop there for a sandwich or coffee, so it’ familiar to him,” she said,” I’m so happy I have him back.”

Williams echoed that sentiment.

“We were so happy to find out that she found the dog,” Williams said. “She’s alone and Max means so much to her.”

Bucia is very thankful she’s been reunited with Max. She expressed her appreciation to all who were involved in helping to reunite her with him — the police officer who found Max, the staff at the Animal Rescue League of Berks County and the WellSpan staff.

Although this is the first time the staff at the physician’s office has helped find a service dog, both Williams and Miller said that the staff often pulls together to help patients and others in need.

“Here in our office when something devastating happens to one of our patients, we all pull together to help him or her,” Miller said. “It affects our patient’s mental and emotional wellbeing, and we want to help.”

“Our whole team feels that it’s important to help our patients,” Williams added. “We take a holistic approach.”

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Ephrata Review. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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