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VUMC therapy dog Will mourned

May. 16, 2022, 3:17 PM


One of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s beloved pet therapy dogs, Kyleakin Tempest, aka Will, died May 14. He was 11 years old.

Will, a Deerhound, belonged to Bob Wilkins and Ann Hammond. He was their most-titled dog, earning his conformation championship, both his American Kennel Club and American Sighthound Field Association field championships, and multiple Best in Field recognitions.

“We are so proud of him,” Bob said. “We are so grateful to Betty Stephenson, his breeder, co-owner and veterinarian for all things Deerhound…for entrusting this wonderful boy to our care.

“His passing leaves a huge hole in our hearts. His memory is a blessing to us as we mourn our loss and celebrate his life.”

It was later in his life that Will became a cherished therapy dog at VUMC — in 2017 — lighting up the smiles of staff and patients. He achieved the Therapy Dog Distinguished title, handled by Bob for more than five years and 400 visits to the Round Wing, Medical Center North, the Psychiatric Hospital, Neuro ICU and the adult ER.

“Before COVID, every Thursday morning at 9 a.m., the door to my office would open, and Will would enter. I kept a crystal bowl of dog treats on my bookshelf for him. Then he would make his rounds through Medical Center North, visiting patients and staff,” remembers Terrell Smith, MSN, RN, senior director, Patient and Family Engagement. “He brought much joy to others.”

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