WOODLAND HOSPICE: Four-legged volunteers provide comfort
A soft knock, a request to enter, a click, click, click of paws on the tile floor, a cool nose, soft silky ears, then fluttering eyes and ... a smile. For a moment, the focus changes as furry faces come into view. The therapy dogs have arrived!
Every Tuesday, Kindle, Boomer and Baxter (Golden Retrievers) and every Thursday, Pepper and Tipper (English Springer Spaniels) visit Woodland Hospice to bring, as only they can, a measure of comfort to family, friends and people who are ending their time on earth in a quiet, dignified manner.
The dogs have been especially trained and, with their handlers, are registered pet therapy teams. The dogs visit numerous locations when asked to give emotional support to people who enjoy animals and want the quiet presence and unconditional friendship that only a dog can give.
Although every place visited has meaningful moments and stories abound, volunteering at Woodland Hospice is unique. While the dogs’ role at Woodland Hospice is to provide pet therapy, there are 150 active volunteers at Woodland Hospice that are the “heart” of the organization, says Karen Langeland, executive director.
The volunteers can participate by completing clerical tasks, landscaping opportunities, housekeeping and kitchen opportunities, and outreach opportunities – as well as the caregiving and companionship volunteers provide for individuals facing a life threatening illness.