Winnie’s expecting! Chief canine officer to go on maternity leave next month

A happy announcement from Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.

Winnie, the hospital’s chief canine officer, is expecting!

Wendi Hirsch, Winnie’s handler, says the pregnancy was “very carefully planned.”

“It was our hope she would have one litter of future service dogs to go back to Assistance Dogs of Hawaii, which is where she was trained, and provide services dogs throughout the state of Hawaii,” said Hirsch.

Winnie is due in mid-June, and will go back to Assistance Dogs of Hawaii on Maui to have her puppies. She’ll be on maternity leave for six to seven weeks to wean them.

“When she had her ultrasound a couple days ago, we saw many heartbeats. It was too soon to say exactly how many, but there’s a few puppies coming,” Hirsch said. “She’s acting perfect. She just seems like she’s taking it all in stride, maybe a little more tired, but otherwise totally normal. She’s always such a calm, mellow dog that it’s hard to tell the difference.”

Hirsch says the news has everyone excited, especially the kids.

“Everybody is, as of this morning, is trying to guess how many puppies are going to be in the litter, what will they look like, how big they will be, and all that,” she said. “Everybody’s super excited. I can’t tell you. This is such great news here at the hospital, and obviously perfect for a women’s and children’s hospital to have a pregnant hospital dog.”

The father, Hirsch says, is a service dog in California. “He’s a yellow Lab, beautiful, a very sweet hand-picked dog for her.”

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