Tags Posts tagged with "Huck"


Update: Huck has been adopted! Now Ruger, this sweet man finally got his #fureverhome home and a very #happilyeverafter.



Attention German Shepherd fans!  This week’s featured shelter of the week is Huckleberry (Huck), a gorgeous 2 1/2 year old pure bred German Shepherd waiting at the Smithtown Animal  & Adoption Shelter for his furever home.

Huck is a working breed dog and needs a home with a strong leader and the ability to work with and exercise him regularly. This beauty is fiercely loyal and highly intelligent and he loves to learn new tricks and commands. He is loving and affectionate with his family unit! Sadly, his prior adopters were not equipped to give him the stimulation that he requires.

A home with German Shepherd experience is preferred.

If you are interested in meeting Huck, please fill out an adoption application online at www.townofsmithtownanimalshelter.com. The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. For more information, call 631-360-7575.

Deputy Chief Michael Presta with Huckleberry from Canine Companions. Photo by Julianne Mosher

By Julianne Mosher

[email protected]

Port Jefferson EMS has a new volunteer on staff — a golden lab named Huckleberry.

Known to his counterparts as “Huck,” the 2-year-old Canine Companions for Independence facility dog has been hired to respond to stressful situations and bring a sense of relief to those in need. 

Huck is ready for action in the Port Jefferson EMS car. Photo by Julianne Mosher

His handler Deputy Chief Michael Presta said that he became interested in adopting a facility dog when a friend — who is a police officer down in Maryland — told him about the program. Presta began researching Canine Companions and found that there are many different benefits to having a facility dog on premise. 

“A facility dog would be a dog that works in an educational, legal or some sort of clinical hospital health care setting,” he said. “For example, in the legal setting, they work as crime victim advocates for kids that have to testify and things like that, and it’s really kind of gained traction nationally in the education setting of the schools that have them.”

Presta added that hospitals like Mount Sinai and Calvary Hospital in the Bronx have facility dog programs, but Port Jefferson EMS is one of the first on Long Island within the health care industry.

“The dogs work with patients, work with people that are receiving PT, OT services, work with kids — anybody that’s really suffered any trauma,” he said. “And that’s what we’re using Huck for; we’re using him to really engage with the community’s vulnerable populations.”

Presta and his new furry friend will be working side by side engaging with children and adults affected by trauma who they deal with on a daily basis. 

“Not every solution in medicine is giving a medication or starting an IV,” he said. “Sometimes we can slow down work with the patients, and the dog is a great tool
for that.”

Since 1975, Canine Companions has bred, raised and expertly trained assistance dogs in over 40 commands designed to assist people with disabilities or to motivate and inspire clients with special needs. Huck can pull toy wagons, push drawers closed and retrieve all kinds of items. He has specific commands that allow him to interact with patients in a calm and appropriate way.

But it’s not just fun and games having him around. He has a lot of responsibilities while on call. “Right now, he responds in the car with me when I’m working clinically,” Presta said. 

Huck’s badge on the back of his harness.
Photo by Julianne Mosher

Not every opportunity is a good fit for Huck, Presta added. If a patient is extremely ill or isn’t a dog person, Huck usually stands back. But within the last few weeks — Huck just joined the team last month — he has calmed people in distress.

Presta said that while working with patients who have developmental disabilities, sometimes the lights, trucks and uniforms can be a sensory overload for them. 

That’s where Huck comes in.

“We’re hoping that the dog is going to be a great icebreaker tool to kind of break down that barrier,” the deputy chief said. “Establish a lot of communication and get them into the ambulance, get patients to the hospital.”

Port Jefferson EMS is a combination EMS agency of career and volunteer paramedics and EMTs providing 24/7/365 advanced life support ambulance service to the communities of Port Jefferson, Belle Terre, Mount Sinai and Miller Place. 

There is also a unique live-in program for Stony Brook University students where about 15 of them live on premise. They get free room and board in exchange for riding in the ambulance 24 hours a week.

“They get an immersive clinical experience,” Presta said. “They’re here all the time. They get a lot of clinical hours, which makes them really competitive for programs, and we get EMTs in the community here which is needed.”

And Presta said Huck has made friends with each and every one of them. 

“In addition to his role, he helps serve the 200 people in this organization,” he added. “We see some pretty gnarly things from time to time, so Huck is our de-facto licensed therapist here.”

Since his first tour in October, Huck is already off to an excellent start helping out others. 

“It’s been great for us,” Presta said. “He’s been really engaging with the community. We’re out in the village walking around, meeting people, talking to people from all walks of life and he really has been a great tool for us.”