Meet Daisy, a dog that brings comfort to the dying
Published Friday, May 11, 2018 10:00PM EDT
An Ontario hospice has hired a full-time employee perfectly suited to provide a dose of happiness to those moving through life’s final transition.
Daisy, a three-year-old golden Labrador retriever, has been working as a certified service dog at Hospice Simcoe in Barrie, Ont. for about a year. Her job is simple: to be there for those who need her most.
“She can reduce anxiety, she can lower blood pressure, just by being there with people. She loves to be touched,” hospice employee Lynda Murta, who is also Daisy’s primary care giver, told CTV News.
Early in Daisy’s life, her breeders at Cope Service Dogs in Barrie, Ont. noticed that she had a calm and steady demeanor, and suggested she might be a good fit in a palliative setting.
Studies suggest that therapy dogs have a role in helping humans deal with grief and loss.
Daisy is trained to remain calm and quiet. She roams through the hallways of the hospice and enters rooms when invited. Often, she hops on patients’ beds to offer a warm snuggle and cozies up to family members visiting their dying loved ones.
Many hospices allow pets to visit or have visiting therapy dogs. Hospice Simcoe appears to be the first in Canada with a dog full time on site from Monday to Friday, nine to five.
Her job is so official, she even has her own staff email.
Hospice staff say Daisy usually knows precisely who to provide comfort.
“She has certainly showed us on many occasions that she knows what’s happening. She knows when she goes to a family which person in that room needs her the most,” Murta said. “
In an environment often fraught with emotions, Daisy has a unique ability to break the tension. David, whose father is at the hospice, with lung cancer. He says visits from Daisy are a friendly reprieve.
“Daisy brings a sense of peace and brings the gentleness out in my dad too, to see that connection with the dog,” David said.
“It’s just nice, and encouraging and rewarding to see that.”
Lori Scholten-Dallimore, a spiritual care coordinator with the hospice, said she’s seen Daisy provide comfort in some of the toughest moments.
“I was once at a bedside where a loved one was very emotional, and she went right up to them and went up to their face and wanted to lick their tears,” she said.
Among Daisy’s fans is Bill, a retired teacher with advanced lung cancer. He says visits from the dog always give him a little lift.
“Dogs make me smile,” he said.
Daisy’s breeders say they now have a request for a second hospice therapy dog, destined for a facility in Alliston, Ont.
With a report from CTV medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip