Susan and Skip Daynes with Devi-Diva, photo by Adam Finkle

On New Year’s Eve, Susan Daynes brought yellow lab-golden retriever mix Devi-Diva, to Primary Children’s Hospital to deliver smiles (and licks) to the kids.

One patient’s grandmother recounted to Susan how a therapy dog saved her life years ago. “She said, ‘I was thinking of committing suicide; I was having such a hard time, and I just grabbed onto that dog,’” Susan recalls. The woman’s savior was Colonel, a golden retriever Susan and her husband Skip adopted 15 years ago. Colonel was the first dog they used for Intermountain Therapy Animals. He died of cancer in 2011.

Recently, Skip published Remembering Colonel, chronicling Colonel’s life and sharing stories of his patients, including a boy who suffered a brain injury and several broken bones in a car crash. With Colonel’s support, he made nearly a full recovery.

Susan now visits hospitals with Devi-Diva through ITA and the couple uses golden retriever Reggie for kids’ health programs. Skip owns Daynes Music, the only Steinway piano dealer in the state and a fourth-generation family business. Susan runs Coach Mike’s Tennis Academy’s shop. 

They started training dogs when they saw the difference therapy dog Yazanoff II (Yaz) made for their son, Tim, after he shattered three vertebrae in an accident at Lake Powell. “I never would have done this if it wasn’t for his accident,” Susan says. “It’s brought so much joy and happiness.”

Back>>>Read other stories from our March/April 2014 issue.