Tuesday, November 4, 2008

First Hospice Visit

In October I spent 2 full Saturdays going through training to be a volunteer with Arkansas Hospice. Katie and I had taken the therapy dog test at their facility earlier in the year and they asked if I was interested in volunteering with them. I said that I would give it some thought. I knew a little bit about Hospice, but I didn't realize the full scope of their work. It is an amazing organization that helps people with terminal illnesses to live out their remaining days with as much physical, emotional and spiritual comfort as possible. There are teams of doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, nursing assistants and volunteers that work very hard to help the dying live well.

Tonight Katie and I had our first therapy dog visit at the inpatient center of Arkansas Hospice. It was truly a wonderful experience for me, Katie and the people we met. When we walked in we saw the nurses first. They surrounded Katie and gave her lots of nice petting. Then Katie and I walked from room to room asking if people were interested in a visit from a large dog. There were about 14 patients there; we saw about 10 of them. Two were sleeping and two were not interested in a visit. Several patients had family in their rooms so Katie visited with them also. We were told by Therapy Dogs International that the therapy is not just for the patient; the families and medical staff can usually use some cheering up too. We found that to be very true tonight. In some cases the patients were not coherent enough to pay much attention to a 110 pound Newf sitting in their room, but Katie sure brought some smiles to their families' faces.

Katie was beautifully behaved. She was completely silent the whole time and extremely calm. She got used to her surroundings very quickly and even did a 10 minute down stay at the end of the visit while I completed my volunteer paperwork. I am so proud of her and pleased that I can share my angel with other people.

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