Is your dog a Canine Good Citizen (or does s/he want to be)? We know a special place that could use her (or his) services! We met Caroline Blankenship, the Manager of Volunteer Services, Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care, at the Trinity Cathedral Blessing of the Animals. Seasons Hospice was looking for volunteers, including canine volunteers. Caroline is looking for Canine Good Citizens ready to give of their time. We wanted to share this opportunity with the several Canine Good Citizens we walk and pet sit for, and let you in on the small interview we had with her via email, below.
Q) How would one go about taking their Canine Good Citizen to Seasons Hospice?
A) Get a feel for your canine. If they are friendly, loving, provide peace and tranquility and are full of joy, then your canine will be a great addition to the Hospice team here at Seasons. The next step would be to coordinate with the volunteer department at Seasons and initiate the screening process with one of our great volunteer coordinating staff.
Q) What is the routine like for dog and handler? What can they expect from a typical day of volunteering?
A) The days for both dog and handler vary greatly since we have a variety of patients with different needs, so, there is no set routine other than bringing smiles and happiness to the patients!
Q)What benefits have you observed that people in hospice gain from coming into contact with Canine Good Citizens?
A) Patients in hospice that receive pet therapy have been noted to be less stressed and feel more upbeat with their frequent canine visitors! Some patients that have been less prone to show emotions have frequently displayed levels of affection not regularly seen in the past when they have their canine visitors.
Q) Can you share a story about the benefits of bringing dogs to the hospice?
A) One of our canines, Ginger, used to visit a patient last year that would not speak to anyone and would always have their head turned away. One day on a visit by Ginger and her handler, Ginger (being the happy affection Lab/Shepard mix that she is) climbed up on the patient’s bedside excitedly and simply leaned her head next to the patient. The patient slowly but surely turned her head towards Ginger, began to pet her head, and smiled! Every visit after that was so special to the patient; she was visibly moved by Ginger, and her entire demeanor changed. She passed away with Ginger by her side the next day.
Q) Is there anything in particular you want potential volunteers to know?
A) Make sure your canine is trained and certified as a Good Canine Citizen, is well behaved, shows the essential qualities of a pet therapy dog (love, affection, happiness, friendliness) and be ready to provide a truly great and beneficial experience to patients.
Many thanks to Caroline for her time. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, click on their volunteer application link. Is your dog a good candidate to become a Canine Good Citizen? Go ahead and make that a goal for 2015- find a class here!