Pet Therapy: It’s the Little Things That Count

When Alice moved to Salt Lake City with her husband, they bought a plot of land and built a beautiful home together. They settled down, had a few children, and as their children grew, inevitably animals became an inextricable part of their lives. Whether it was her children bringing them home, or her husband finding them in the paper, there were always a few extra family members. As the years passed, Alice adopted many animals, from the mundane (cats, dogs, etc.) to the exotic (a monkey!). There were several decades of cherished memories with all of them. When our hospice team met Alice, her menagerie of animals had decreased significantly, to a troupe of loyal dogs. Her children had grown and her husband had passed away. She wasn’t lonely, however—her dogs were her best friends and avid protectors.

 

Eventually, Alice had to move to a facility and leave her beloved friends behind. It was an emotional event for all involved. The move itself went well and soon she was resting comfortably in her new room. It was clear to her hospice team, however, that she was missing her animals. A volunteer coordinator was called in to assess Alice for pet therapy, and not long after a handler and her service animal were assigned to visit Alice weekly. Alice would brighten instantly at their presence and spend hours laying with the yellow lab mix, Ozzie, petting him and sharing her favorite treat, Twinkies.

 

Despite Alice being separated from her pets, her hospice team was able to make things a lot easier by facilitating pet therapy visits. Alice still lives at the facility and still sees her favorite visitor, a kind, gentle canine named Ozzie.