Doggone Special: Linus Celebrates 10 Years of Comforting Hospice Patients
They say that every dog has its day, and on March 19, it was Linus’s turn to shine. The gentle Golden Retriever therapy dog was honored for a very special milestone: 10 years of bringing comfort, compassion and smiles to patients and their families at David Simpson Hospice House.
Several of Linus’s fellow therapy dog buddies and their volunteer owners attended a party in his honor complete with a cake, dog toys and treats for everyone and a four-legged pooch parade through the hallways.
Each day, Linus, along with his owner, long-time Hospice of the Western Reserve nurse Keli Keyes, arrive faithfully for their shift at David Simpson Hospice House, bringing comfort and smiles to patients, families and visitors. Linus provides unconditional love at a time when it is most needed and has the uncanny gift of sensing when others are in need. Last year alone, more than 1,300 patients received care at David Simpson Hospice House, and they were visited by thousands of loved ones. Multiply that one year of service by 10, and you can see just how much love Linus and Keli have spread around.
What does Keli have to say about her beloved dog? “Linus will happily accept pets and hugs, and he especially loves to ask for belly rubs. Sometimes, his fur absorbs tears.”
Linus has an amazing back story. In 2008, he was rescued by G.R.I.N. (Golden Retrievers in Need), an organization that provides forever homes to stray dogs from shelters, pounds and owner surrenders. Little did he know that he would ultimately be adopted by Keli and trained and certified to carry out a very special mission. The duo has been bringing comfort, love and joy to hospice patients since 2009.
Linus and Keli are not alone in their important pet therapy work. Hospice of the Western Reserve currently has 23 volunteers who visit patients with their certified pet therapy dogs in a variety of settings. The comfort they provide extends to thousands of people in our community every day. Experts say simply stroking a dog can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate and ease depression. Often, the dogs make a special connection with patients who once had beloved pets of their own. The comfort of a soft furry muzzle nudging their hand provides the best medicine of all.
Interested on becoming a Hospice of the Western Reserve volunteer? Sign up for a volunteer training session at hospicewr.org/volunteer, or call or email for more information: 216.255.9090, firstname.lastname@example.org.