WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Many people have experienced the companionship a dog can offer them in their lives, and at Hospice of Jefferson County, their therapy dogs do that and so much more.
Studies show that therapy animals can improve both physical and mental health. Hospice of Jefferson County Navigator, Nicole Schultz said their therapy dog in training, Nora, does just that.
“She has a special relationship with a lot of our folks here and she knows just where to go,” Shultz said. “She knows what she can do, and it just really brightens the mood with everybody here.”
Nora is an eight-month-old mini golden doodle on her last stint training to become a certified therapy dog. Over the course of a few months, Nora learned basic obedience commands and was introduced to different businesses to gain experience in different environments.
Nora will return to training in order to learn more skills regarding the therapy aspect of the certification. Stultz said the combination of temperament and training allows Nora to provide anybody who is struggling with the support they need.
“You don’t have to really explain a lot to them. You don’t have to do much. They’re just there, and they really do just kind of soothe your mood,” Stultz said. “We don’t have to talk. We don’t have to do anything. We just be here with each other and be present, and that’s certainly what she does.”
Kathy Arendt is the Director of Marketing and Community Relations at Hospice and said that their therapy dogs fully embrace their purpose.
“People hear the word hospice, the first thing is they feel sad, fear, and I think with our therapy dogs, our motto here is ‘Make Everyday Matter’, and our therapy dogs are the champions of that,” Arendt said.
On June 25 members of the community will have the opportunity to meet the facility’s therapy dogs and experience what they have to offer at the Watertown Rapids game at the Alex D. Duffy Fairgrounds. Attendees will be able to meet the dogs, make donations, and watch Hospice’s senior therapy dog throw the opening pitch.
A portion of the proceeds from that game will benefit Hospice and the organization’s Pet Peace of Mind Program. The program is available through Hospice’s partnership with the SPCA and makes sure each member of the family is taken care of, including the furry ones.
“If a patient has a pet and they don’t know where they’re gonna go after they’re passing or they need help with veterinary bills or food bills, or if they just need somebody to come and help walk the dog, we’re there to help them,” Arendt said. “We’re there to take care of the whole family, and that includes the pets too.”
Additionally, those who make a donation of $5 at the game will receive a plush puppy in honor of their donation. The doors for the game will open at 5:30 p.m. and the game will begin at 6 p.m. More information can be found on the Hospice of Jefferson County website or the Watertown Rapids website.