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Bringing A Little Love To The Dying: Pets in Hospice Care

A therapy dog visits a woman in a hospice.

We’ve all heard about the studies that say when you own pets it lowers your blood pressure, extends your life, and generally makes things better, but if you’re sick or worse, dying the comfort of your pets is usually something you no longer get to enjoy.

Luckily, most places that treat the sick and the dying, particularly hospice centers, recognize this and work with pet therapists to help offer them some four legged comfort.

It’s a powerful thing, the way an animal can lift the spirits of the sick. Enjoy these photos, and make sure you have your tissues handy. You’re gonna need ‘em.


  • Trader 1 of 10
    Trader
    Trader has been a certified therapy dog for six years. He volunteers at the same hospice center that his owner's parents were treated in. Trader is a ten-year-old standard poodle.

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  • Patches 2 of 10
    Patches
    Patches and his owner visit five different hospice centers each week, offering comfort and love to those that need it.

    image credit
  • Juno 3 of 10
    Juno
    Juno here actually lives full time at the Norwest Ohio Hospice Center, available to the patients at any time. Look at his sweet face!

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  • Kahuna 4 of 10
    Kahuna
    Kahuna here is a two-year-old Basset Hound that visits three different hospice and acute care facilities each week. The nurses at the facilities he visits say they see a huge difference in the patients during his visits.

    image credit
  • Baxter 5 of 10
    Baxter
    This one's a weeper. Baxter here was a therapy dog for 19 and 1/2 years. Yes, really. Sadly, he died recently. But you can see the miracle of his work in his video (only watch if you're prepared for the ugly cry).

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  • Kalaber 6 of 10
    Kalaber
    Kalaber here not only visits a hospice center weekly, but works with children that are grieving over the loss of a limb due to an accident or illness. Why? Because Kalaber is a three legged dog himself.

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  • Megan 7 of 10
    Megan
    Megan is a portuguese water dog, and visits a hospice weekly. Esther, who Megan is visiting in this photo, was unsure about meeting a dog but the two became fast friends.

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  • Yurt 8 of 10
    Yurt
    This story, you guys. *pausing to weep* Yurt lived with his owner, Kevin, who was homeless, in a car. When his owner collapsed due to severe lung cancer, Kevin went to hospice while Yurt went to a shelter. Luckily, the paramedics that took Kevin to the hospital arranged to have Yurt come say goodbye to Kevin before he passed away. This photo is of that reunion. *weeps*

    image credit (plus video of Yurt with his new owners!)
  • Magic 9 of 10
    Magic
    It's not just dogs that do hospice therapy! Here Magic, a miniature horse, visits a hospice.

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  • More Magic! 10 of 10
    More Magic!
    Magic isn't in a hospice here, but come on this photo is just so happy and uplifting I had to share it. Gotta love that smile!

    image credit

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