Monty the Moose

Monty the Moose at Fletcher Allen

During the Children's Miracle Network annual telethon, Chief of Pediatrics, Lewis First, MD, introduced to the world a new friend of the Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen -- a moose named Monty. This is the story of how Vermont Children's adopted the moose as its official mascot.

Dr. First, discovered Monty while trekking deep in the woods one day, during a taping of one of his "First With Kids" television spots about wilderness safety.

As he walked along a path, Dr. First noticed a shy moose following him, but staying at a safe distance. Being the fun-loving pediatrician that he is, Dr. First took interest in the moose and asked him why he didn't come closer -- as moose are notoriously known to be near-sighted.

Normally, the moose didn't speak, but he was curious as to why a pediatrician, who obviously knew very little about roughing it in the outdoors, was traipsing around in the woods with a TV camera.  He therefore took the liberty of introducing himself to Dr. First and told him his name was Monty.

Dr. First explained that the television show is just one of the many wonderful ways the Vermont Children's Hospital teaches children and families in its quest to provide the best care to the community. He explained that many dedicated and talented people devote their time to helping children feel better.

Monty's antlers perked up immediately when he heard about Vermont Children's because the moose had lots of experience in caring for the young animals in the forest. He would make the other animals laugh when they were under the weather and that always helped make them feel better. Monty wanted to help everyone at Vermont Children's and said he was up to the challenge since he had proven himself in the forest.

Dr. First said that although Vermont Children's usually provides "the best care from caring people," he was sure he could find a special place for a moose in Vermont Children's Hospital -- he just needed to give it a little thought.

While Dr. First was thinking about a way for Monty to pitch in at Vermont Children's, he let the moose stay at his house. Dr. First told Monty that for now, he should stay indoors by day, because the neighbors didn't know him yet and moose aren't typically supposed to live in human neighborhoods.

But by night, Dr. First would often sneak Monty in to visit the different areas of Vermont Children's Hospital to show him around. Dr. First explained how each of the different areas that make up Vermont Children's helped children and how each area is equally important -- from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit; from the outpatient Children's Specialty Center to Radiology; from the child-friendly operating and recovery rooms to the pediatric and family practice primary care sites.  While everyone was sleeping, Dr. First would also bring Monty to visit Baird 5, which was still being renovated and under construction at the time.

While indoors during the day, Monty took a liking to sprawling out on Dr. First's couch, eating popcorn and watching TV. He found it especially amusing to see many of his friends featured on the Animal Planet Network.

Not withstanding the wear and tear on his couch, Dr. First thought it was a funny sight to see a moose lying on his couch watching the tube. He knew children in the hospital would enjoy it too.  So Dr. First thought a bright mural with animals doing recreational human-like activities should be painted on the new inpatient unit. You can see this painting today on Baird 5, and of course, the mural includes a picture of Monty watching TV.

After the mural was done, Dr. First watched the children enjoy the pictures of Monty and the other animals so much that it finally occurred to him what the moose's role should be... he could be the official mascot of the Vermont Children's Hospital!

Monty was perfect! Kind, warm and cuddly, and what child could resist a big fuzzy and caring moose?  He embodied the spirit of Vermont Children's -- despite the fact that he wasn't a person -- and that's what's important.

So look for Monty around now and again -- here at Fletcher Allen and out in the community -- doing his job of making children laugh.  Please welcome Monty when you see him.

And that's the "tail" of Monty the Moose.