A hospice is a medical facility or at-home care that provides services and emotional support to a person in the last stages of a serious illness. A hospice facility is focused on reaching a good quality of life, and therapy dogs play an increasingly important role.
Many persons with hospice care have spent their lives with animals, and suddenly they can’t have a pet anymore. Therapy dogs provide the love, comfort, and companionship needed, and enrich the lives of both patients and families. The dogs can provide a physical contact many yearn for, combat loneliness, and make a person feel needed and wanted.
Hospice work isn’t for all dogs, or all handlers, but if it’s something you would like to do with your dog, it makes a big difference for the people who needs it the most.
In order to interact with the patients, the dog must prove itself reliable and with an appropriate temperament. The dogs must be at least one year old to be trained for hospice work, but other than that they can be large or small, mutts or pure breds. The dog must be healthy, and obey basic commands.
If you’re interested in hospice work with your dog, take a look at Therapy Dogs International. They have a testing brochure available telling you about the steps the dog must be able to handle, and you can read more about their testing requirements here.