Hospice of Michigan Pet Volunteers Enjoy “Pawsitive” Patient Interactions

Caregiving canines needed to visit patients in the Traverse City area

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (Sept. 10, 2018) – Austrian zoologist Konrad Lorenz once noted, “the bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth will ever be.” Spending time with a furry friend can have wonderful therapeutic effects for people of all ages, from mental stimulation to improved self-esteem and physical health. For this reason, Hospice of Michigan is looking to grow its network of pet therapy volunteers and friendly pet visitors. The nonprofit is currently searching for people with dogs or other pets interested in spending time with patients in Traverse City and surrounding communities.

Although Lisa and Lexi Charles began volunteering with Hospice of Michigan just this year, they’ve already made a big impact with their patient visits. While many volunteers are assigned to visit patients in their homes, Lisa – and Lexi, a twelve-year-old boxer – see their current patient, Ron, at an assisted living facility. Lexi knows the direct route to Ron’s room – though she isn’t opposed to slowing down for a few friendly pets from the other residents. “She loves walking through the facility and seeing everybody before she visits Ron.  But when she finally gets to him, they both light up with joy.”

Charles travels most of the week for her job, so she was initially worried about the time and effort required for pet visits. She was surprised to find the process was much easier than originally anticipated, “the pressure I imposed on myself was gone once we made our first visit.” Her main hesitation revolved around how Lexi – an older rescue dog – would react to new environments, but that uncertainty went away once Lexi linked up with Ron. “Coming into this experience I was a little intimidated by hospice, but Lexi sure wasn’t. The rewards have really dispelled any anxiety I had.”

Those interested in an experience like Lisa and Lexi Charles’ should contact Kathy Lietaert, volunteer program manager for HOM’s north region, at 231.779.5409 or klietaer@hom.org for details. More information is also available at www.hom.org. Many different types of pets are accepted in addition to dogs, which must be at least one year old and current on all shots. Past therapy training or experience is preferred but not required. For more information on the opportunities and services offered by Hospice of Michigan, please visit www.hom.org.

About Hospice of Michigan
A nationally recognized leader in end-of-life care, Hospice of Michigan (HOM) is the original – and largest – hospice in the state. A founding member of the NorthStar Care Community, the nonprofit delivers the highest quality of care, raising more than $5 million each year to cover costs for the uninsured and underinsured. HOM offers a broad range of services to enhance the quality of life at the end of life. HOM also provides grief support and counseling, as well as caregiver education and support. A member of the NorthStar Care Community, HOM also provides palliative care through NorthStar Palliative Care, pediatric hospice care and compassionate support services through Jo Elyn Nyman Anchors Programs for Children, and education programs for physicians and health care professionals through the NorthStar Institute. The NorthStar Care Community also includes Arbor Hospice. In total, NorthStar Care Community members serve nearly 6,500 patients annually across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. For more information, call 888.247.5701