Discovering Unconditional Love, Comfort, Healing and Companionship

hospice pets
Pictured is Red, one of the certified therapy dogs at Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, helping our Adult Day Services guests have a really good day.

Sounds good doesn’t it? It’s pretty much what everybody on the planet needs. And it’s available every day through Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan’s pet therapy program. Just the sight of a dog and the feel of its fur bring peace and joy to hospice clients and adult day guests throughout the year. The therapy dogs are trained and certified, but it is the healing gift of their nature and the generosity of their owners that makes the program so popular.

It is incredible to see and experience what these dogs, from the large German shepherd to the miniature poodle and every size and breed in between, are able to do while visiting clients. They help to calm and soothe those who are anxious or lonely. They make people feel needed and wanted, encourage social interaction, increase self-esteem, and improve motor skills. And it’s just downright fun to be with them. Each is owned by a trained hospice volunteer.

The 2015 Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan calendar showcases this wonderful program. The owners were eager to bring their dogs to be photographed and to talk about the special ways their dogs make a difference in the lives of hospice clients and adult day guests.

“It wasn’t easy to get thirteen dogs to ‘pose’,” said Shelly Parkhurst, marketing communications specialist for Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. “By the third or fourth dog, they were more interested in sniffing the floor than paying attention to the job at hand, but we succeeded in getting at least one priceless photo of each of them. We also were able to interview thirteen of our amazing volunteers who have committed their time to helping our clients live well. We know that these volunteers and their pets make a real difference.”

Hospice volunteers provide a variety of life-affirming services, from companionship and respite care to serving meals at Rose Arbor Hospice Residence. Volunteers also help with office work and with fundraising events.

The 2015 calendar featuring an adorable dog for every month of the year are still available. Please call Shelly Parkhurst at 269-345-0273. The cost is just $5 per calendar. If you are interested in becoming a trained pet therapy volunteer, or a general hospice volunteer, call 269.488.3935 or email

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