Mental health counselor takes care of client’s dog’s recovery

When a local man was unexpectedly hospitalized, he said he didn’t know who would take care of his service dog Keller. “I texted him and got no response. I thought that was a bit odd because he’s very meticulous about things. He’s just really good at letting me know what’s going on,” said Michelle Hargis-Zuerlein, a mental health counselor with CHI Mercy Behavioral Health Community Support. Hargis-Zuerlein says she came to pick up her client Derrick Stott for a support group when she realized something was wrong. “I came up to the interior door in the apartments and I can hear his dog Keller howling a little,” Hargis-Zuerlein said. When she went inside, she found Stott on the floor. He had been lying there for seven hours. “My medical bracelet had cut into my wrist… I’ve been laying there for so long,” Stott said. Stott was taken to hospital where he spent two weeks recovering from a flu-related fever. During that time, Hargis-Zuerlein took in his service dog Keller and took care of her with her husband. She and the dog even made trips to the hospital as Stott started to improve. “Having her there for that time, cuddling with her, to give her up was really hard,” said Hargis-Zuerlein. “But I knew Derrick loves her and takes care of him and this is where she had to be.” The service dog is now back at Stott’s home. But Keller was allowed to reunite with her temporary carer on Thursday. Now the relationship between the two people is closer than ever, thanks to a very sweet dog. “You know, she’s kind of my girl. And I’m not married, so she’s kind of my little baby. I don’t know what I would do without her,” Stott said of his dog.

When a local man was unexpectedly hospitalized, he said he didn’t know who would take care of his service dog Keller.

“I texted him and got no response. I thought that was a bit odd because he’s very meticulous about things. He’s just really good at letting me know what’s going on,” said Michelle Hargis-Zuerlein, a mental health counselor with CHI Mercy Behavioral Health Community Support.

Hargis-Zuerlein says she came to pick up her client Derrick Stott for a support group when she realized something was wrong.

“I came up to the interior door in the apartments and I can hear his dog Keller howling a little,” Hargis-Zuerlein said.

When she went inside, she found Stott on the floor. He had been lying there for seven hours.

“My medical bracelet had cut into my wrist… I’ve been laying there for so long,” Stott said.

Stott was taken to hospital where he spent two weeks recovering from a flu-related fever. During that time, Hargis-Zuerlein took in his service dog Keller and took care of her with her husband.

She and the dog even made trips to the hospital as Stott started to improve.

“Having her there for that time, cuddling with her, to give her up was really hard,” said Hargis-Zuerlein. “But I knew Derrick loves her and takes care of him and this is where she needed to be.”

The service dog is now back at Stott’s home. But Keller was allowed to reunite with her temporary carer on Thursday.

Now the relationship between the two people is closer than ever, thanks to a very sweet dog.

“You know, she’s kind of my girl. And I’m not married, so she’s kind of my little baby. I don’t know what I would do without her,” Stott said of his dog.

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