They may be the youngest team members at St. Luke’s, but they already carry a lot of responsibility – and have earned some major respect.
Meet Mack and Rocky, security dogs extraordinaire. Both have received some big support recently from their teammates at St. Luke’s.
Mack is a 10-month-old puppy who joined the security team in July 2021. He already has 100 hours of training under his collar.
The goldendoodle’s handler is Frank Neumeyer, a security officer at St. Luke’s Magic Valley – and currently referred to as “Mack’s Daddy.”
Neumeyer worked with dogs previously with the Idaho Department of Corrections and in the military. Because of his background, it was a good fit for him to become Mack’s handler.
“It was just natural and I loved it,” Neumeyer said.
“I picked a dog that was small enough to be with patients and do the scent training,” he added. “That’s where Mack came into it. We got him as a puppy and started bringing him here when he was 14 weeks old, when he got his first set of shots.”
Mack isn’t just a cute companion. He is multi-talented.
Currently being trained to detect explosives, Mack is also used to help with emotional support among the hospital staff. He is available upon request to see patients when he is on shift, and according to the security team, he already has a proven track record of using his cuteness as a de-escalation tool to calm upset patients, visitors and staff.
“We want to spend 80-90% of our time around the staff to make sure they are having a good day,” Neumeyer said.And the staff is paying back the love to its four-legged co-worker.
On Feb. 16, staff from multiple hospital units donated $7,500 to St. Luke’s Magic Valley Health Foundation into the Jerry Morton Security Fund. The Foundation matched these funds for a grand total of $15,000. The donations will help to support Mack’s explosives training in the coming months.
The support for the canine security program has been strong across the St. Luke’s footprint.
Beginning in December, St. Luke’s team members came together to assist another security dog, Rocky. A frequent fixture in Treasure Valley locations, Rocky needed ACL surgery. Handlers pay for their partners’ care, so a drive was initiated to help Rocky and his handler, Greg Tank.
In two months, more than 120 St. Luke’s employees helped donate more than $10,000 to help Rocky. He had operations in January and early February to remove a small tumor from his back and to repair his torn ACL. He currently is on the mend, trying a second round of antibiotics after a setback with the first.
St. Luke’s security operations supervisor Lonnie Menges said Tank has been “overwhelmed” by the support and that staff has reciprocated the unconditional love Rocky is known for.
“When an 85-pound dog licks your tears away, then tries to sit on your lap, it’s hard to feel sad,” Menges said.
Michelle Bartlome is the public relations manager at St. Luke's Magic Valley.