Man’s best friend helps bring peace to hospice patients

Posted at 5:05 PM, Jan 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-09 17:05:25-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Man's best friend.  No matter your age, gender, or stature, we can’t resist them.

That's why Emmanuel Hospice in Grand Rapids is adding dog visits to their therapy programs.

Their first volunteer, Kaitlyn Mulvey explains, "Basically I go visit patients in hospice and I bring Duke along with me, and we just spend some time together so they can pet and play and just kinda converse about their experience with dogs, and just their past basically."

Kaitlyn's dog Duke is the trailblazer of the therapy. Since they started volunteering this fall, more pups and their owners have joined.

Emmanuel Hospice volunteer coordinator, Jackie Chandler tells us, "When a dog walks in a room everyones face lights up and they wanna come say 'hi.' Duke was our first dog to pilot the program, since then we’ve had three other graduates who have joined us. We have little Mati, we have Lilly and we have Kiwi."

Spending time with each one of these dogs helps reduce depression, anxiety, and gives patients that extra nudge, wet nose and all, to open up.

"One time a patient was often times kinda reserved and didn’t really interact with many activities anymore and the first time I brought Duke there she just started talking... It was just a great experience for her because she was able to feel his wet nose and pet his ears," recounts Mulvey.

It’s safe to say the distraction of wagging tail is quickly spreading smiles, and Duke seems pretty happy too.

"I think he realizes that he’s also making people happy too, and just by their positive interaction with him, I think he knows he’s doing a good job," says Mulvey.

Emmanuel Hospice says they’re always open to more volunteers, but know volunteering does require an extensive training process.

If you're interested call (616) 719-0919 or email