Since 2008, Hospice Care of the Lowcountry has used its Hos-Pet program to bring joy to their patients and help them stay as active as possible. The all-volunteer program uses 85 specially trained “Good Citizen Dogs,” who go into patient homes or nursing facilities to provide love and companionship to the Lowcountry's hospice patients.
“We have dogs that go through special training so that they can be in nursing homes,” said Darlene Schuetz, director of community relations. “They learn to be around walkers and wheelchairs and things like that, so that we can go into patient homes and all the facilities. The amazing thing about these pets is that they're really intuitive and they know who needs them.”
The pets form beautiful relationships with the patients, who often request visits from specific breeds — especially if they were previously pet owners.
“Our patients just love (the Hos-Pets program),” Schuetz said. “Getting seniors moving a little, even to just pet a dog can really help them. A lot of seniors don't dare get another dog because they're concerned that they will outlive them or they live in a facility, so they really develop a relationship with our volunteer pets.”
Hospice Care of the Lowcountry also helps in-home hospice patients care for their pets, including ensuring that they're spayed and neutered. The program is supported by pet memorial donations, which allows benefactors donate in remembrance of their own pet or in honor of a friend's beloved pet, and receive a personalized commemorative keepsake card.
For more information on Hospice Care of the Lowcountry's Hos-Pets programs or to volunteer or make a donation, call 843-706-2296, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hospicecarelc.org. Hospice Care of the Lowcountry is also on Facebook.