Hundreds of animals have given of their time – and that of their owners – to share a friendly paw or cold nose with people dealing with end-of-life illnesses, as part of the Hospice of the Valley Pet Connections Program.
Most of the pets making visits are dogs, but there have been cats, a bunny and even a miniature horse. The program, which began in 2006, now has more than 170 people and their pets regularly making patient visits that are arranged by the non-profit organization.
“In this serious time of life for the patient, the end of life, something as small as the warmth of a dog makes a difference,” said Charis Williams, who manages Pet Connections. “You can’t underestimate the power.”
Stormy the Rabbit (retired from service)
Stormy wasn’t one to hop off patients’ laps without first spending a little time, hanging around. His owner said at the time that he loved to cuddle right up to a patient and drift asleep.
In 2007, while still in service for Hospice of the Valley, the rabbit was 3 1/2 years old and in his third year of helping patients. Stormy had a close call early in life. He was found soaked during a rainstorm and nursed back to health.
His owner took him in, and her cats took over raising him. She said he became “a goofy bunny.” Patients gravitated to Stormy because he was so soft. A lot of times, his owner said, patients just wanted something to hug and cry with.
Click here to read the original article, and see photos of other Hospice of the Valley therapy animals.