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VA Service Dog is there for the Veterans

Updated: Jan 27, 2019

Hercules stands watch for many veterans

Hercules stands watch
Hercules stands watch

James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa Florida is a massive facility that sprawls across several blocks in Tampa, Florida. Thousands of military veterans visit the hospital each week for care and support from surgery, rehabilitation and assistance. For many it can be a stressful experience, but at James A Haley there is a special member there to ease your time, needs no forms filled out and is always happy to see you. Meet "Hercules" the hospitals in-house service dog.

A service dog to all

Hercules (Herc') is a 2 year old Black Labrador who was assigned as a support dog for one of the veterans who works in patient affairs. Accompanying him to work every day, it soon became clear Herc' wanted to help all the veterans at the hospital and showed an instinct for spotting the one that most needed a little puppy love. His day starts early in a small office as they sort the tasks for the day and then head out to visit the various departments. Poly-Trauma, Outpatient and Hospice are daily stops, and some days he is the VA ambassador to special events at both the hospital and around Tampa Bay.

Hercules was not first dog roaming the halls of the hospital and for many years his predecessor was “Simon”, A Black Poodle who not actually trained as a service dog but had such a glowing effect he was allowed to stay.

Impact is immediate and credible

Herc' is a fixture of the hospital today and many veterans look forward to hearing his paws padding their way. In some visits, his mission means even more than most. We heard the story of just one typical day for this critical member of the team when a veteran in hospice asked to see Hercules. He headed over to spend the morning with the old warrior. He listened patiently to the stories fo the dogs he had known along his travels and comforted him as he tired. The man smiled as he petted Herc's loving face and they parted satisfied with a good day. Shortly after Hercules visit, the veteran peacefully passed to his final post that afternoon.

Bred and Trained

Hercules is an American Kennel Club registered Black Labrador Retriever and certified "Canine Good Citizen" (CGC) and trained by the South Eastern Guide Dogs.

He never barks or chases and is happiest doing his job.

Caring for others.

James A. Haley Veterans Hospital

Activated in 1972, the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital is a tertiary care facility classified as a Clinical Referral Level 1 Facility. JAHVH is a teaching hospital, providing a full range of patient care services, with state-of-the-art technology as well as education and research.

Comprehensive health care is provided through primary care, tertiary care, and long-term care in areas of medicine, surgery, psychiatry, physical medicine and rehabilitation, spinal cord injury, neurology, oncology, dentistry, geriatrics, and extended care.

At the end of his watch Hercules goes home with mom and dad, every new day he brings a sunrise to any cloudy day.

Join his adventure

To learn more about Hercules or join him in is daily adventures, he has his own Facebook Page at @Friends of Hercules

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