Wet noses. Searching eyes. Soft, clean coats. Sensitive, kind hearts. These are HPH Hospice’s (HPH) four-legged volunteers. The canine kind.
HPH started its Compassionate Paws dog therapy program in 2004 before any other local hospice. Ten years later, this initiative continues to be a huge success with patients and family members spanning all ages. Initially developed to decrease patient stress, Compassionate Paws has surpassed its objectives by improving patients’ overall quality of life; strengthening communication; and forging lasting bonds.
Dogs that participate as HPH Compassionate Paws volunteers come in all shapes and sizes and wear an HPH badge while “on duty.” They have passed the Canine Good Citizen exam and the Therapy Dog International test. Compassionate Paws dogs must be current on inoculations and always well-mannered during volunteer duty. Likewise, their HPH volunteer guardian must complete our volunteer training program and stay current with our policies.
Compassionate Paws dogs visit HPH patients at one of our not-for-profit agency’s Hospice Care Centers or in assisted living facilities throughout Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties. These special volunteers are invited guests and sit or lie quietly by a patient’s side giving them unconditional love.
- experience a sense of comfort, warmth and normalcy
- relax and release feelings of anxiety and sadness
- focus on something other than their illness
- respond to a loving touch
- feel more motivated to complete tasks
- look forward to the next Compassionate Paws visit!