Golden and Labrador retriever mix puppy

A puppy brings smiles To MLKCH

Adorable visitor has important work to do someday

We had an especially adorable visitor to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH) recently. Tempo is a 9-month-old golden and Labrador retriever mix puppy currently in training to be a service or assistance dog.

He is the constant companion of Melayne Yocum, a project manager at the MLK Community Medical Group (MLK CMG). Melayne trains these highly-skilled working dogs to serve the disabled, veterans with PTSD, and children with physical or developmental disabilities.

A service or assistance dog requires two full years with its trainer before being placed in a home. The cost of breeding, training, and follow-up care for the life of the dog can run up to $50,000 per dog. Canine Companions for Independence gives these dogs away at no cost to the recipient. Melayne, who is a volunteer puppy raiser for the nonprofit, is grateful that MLKCH permits her to bring Tempo to work with her as part of his socialization.

“Tempo will go on to help someone who truly needs him, so I see his training as an extension of the MLKCH mission,” said Melayne. “We want to make people’s lives better, and these dogs truly transform the lives of their eventual owners.”

Tempo makes people happy at the hospital as well.

“There are days when Tempo might already be working his magic for some of MLKCH's employees and patients as they smile when they see his happy, wagging tail going down the hall,” Melayne said.

Puppy with his handler
Tempo, a puppy training to be a service dog, with his handler, Melayne