Nanook the Alaskan malamute, who is a therapy dog. Picture: Elise Searson
Nanook the Alaskan malamute, who is a therapy dog. Picture: Elise Searson

‘Spent his life spreading love’: Beloved therapy dog dies

THOUSANDS of people are mourning the loss of a gentle and loving therapy dog who helped sick kids at the Queensland Children's Hospital.

Seven-year-old Alaskan malamute, Nanook Samuel, died suddenly on Tuesday.

The Delta therapy dog worked in aged care and then the Queensland's Children's Hospital to provide comfort to sick kids and their families, including many in the ICU.

Nanook and his owner Gavin Devine, 56, in an embrace.
Nanook and his owner Gavin Devine, 56, in an embrace.

 

Owner Gavin Devine, 56, said Nanook helped over 4000 children during his five years of service.

"That's just the direct interactions and names we collected through that process … I would not be surprised if he touched more than 20,000 people in some way through his whole career," he said.

Mr Devine said the best part of Nanook's work was seeing "little smiles through the bandages, drips, drains and machines".

"Some parents would say that a spiritual angel had just walked into the room and changed my child's life," he said.

"We've had comments from a mother in ICU that she feels to this day that without Nanook her little girl would not be here with us today.

"Other families have wanted to adopt Nanook because seeing him was the first time their child had smiled in weeks."

Mr Devine said the children at the hospital would ask all sorts of questions: Can I stay the night? Can I take him home? Is there a person inside there because he is so big?

"I feel like it's not my dog that I've lost, it's the children's dog that they've lost," Mr Devine said.

On Christmas mornings and Easter, Mr Devine and Nanook would be at the hospital giving gifts to kids and families.

Nanook received a 2017 award for ‘Four Legged’ Volunteer of the Year from Children’s Health Queensland. Picture: supplied
Nanook received a 2017 award for ‘Four Legged’ Volunteer of the Year from Children’s Health Queensland. Picture: supplied

 

Social media has flooded with tributes to the beloved therapy dog, with many Queensland parents sharing pictures of Nanook in hospital with their sick child.

"He was a beautiful Alaskan malamute who enriched the lives of everyone he visited at the Queensland Children's Hospital," Queensland Health wrote on Facebook.

Manly Road Vet wrote online that "Nanook spent his life spreading love, hope & joy to children and the elderly."

Mr Devine said the tributes have been helping him and his wife, Sandy, cope with their immense grief.

"We're struggling because home is quiet, there is no pitter-patter of little paws," he said.

"What helps us is reading all of the tributes are stories of the differences that he made to people's lives.

"He has been able to change the lives and help support the children of not just Brisbane but Queensland."

Originally published as 'Spent his life spreading love': Beloved therapy dog dies