ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Some people are defined by what they drive. For others, it's what they wear. Dave Kettering is defined by a leash.
He spent 9,000 hours over the course of 11 years, visiting hospitals, nursing homes, any place where people needed a little comfort.
At each stop he brought with him a living, breathing, huggable angel.
Fox 9 started following Dave when volunteered at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota several years ago. He had a big white fluffy dog everyone on staff was talking about.
"I do think she knows when the end is close and that these people need a different kind of care," Kettering said back then in a Fox 9 interview.
Dave and Sasha made an amazing connection with the sick and dying.
The age and eventually Sasha’s death brought the partnership to an end.
"I think for me the biggest one was evenings. That's when I’d sit down in my chair. I was used to petting the dog beside me, there’re times I found myself petting nothing," Dave remembered.
Dave volunteered on his own for a while, but who's Charlie Brown without Snoopy?
"I needed someone to talk to sometimes. You know tell some stories to that I don't want the rest of the world to know, Dave said, laughing.
NEW ERA BEGINS
So he found Sarah, who is not quite the same calm, collected fur ball as her predecessor.
But, Dave has a way of getting his rambunctious pup to channel her inner angel.
A new comfort squad is back patrolling the halls of St. Paul Children's Hospital.
Their mission is to bring stress relief to children facing surgery.
Dave thinks nothing of driving wherever or whenever someone needs a little heavenly distraction from the pain of this world.
"It doesn't matter how far away he lives, he'll bring her in for one patient if we needed that," said Bonnie Watson, Regions’ volunteer coordinator.
There's a new stop that's been added to his rounds at Regions.
It’s in the E.R., in an area for people struggling with mental illness.
"It’s made my day, that's all I can say," said a man who was there because he wasn’t sure he was on the right medication.
Three years ago, when Sasha died, Dave didn't know if he could ever do the gig again.
But, a little plaque at children's hospital reminded him of why he should.
It's dedicated to his old partner and reads: "Angels do shed. For those who received Sasha kisses or ran their fingers through her fluffy white fur, Sasha is an angel."