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Kyle with pet volunteer Patrick
Kyle with pet volunteer Patrick

Why I Walk: Hospice is My Pet Cause

Posted on August 30, 2022 by Abbie O'Grady, RN, CHPN

Many Care Dimensions staff members have stories, memories, and experiences that illustrate the beautiful impact we have on our patients, families, and communities. Many of us have personal experiences, as I do.

I decided to share my family story to highlight the importance of our hospice work and how much it touches the lives of those we serve, and hopefully to inspire your support for the Care Dimensions Walk for Hospice. If you registered or are fundraising, thank you! If you haven’t yet, you still have time. We have plenty of volunteer opportunities, too.

Pet therapy dogs bring comfort
Pet therapy is one of our most beloved services and is supported by Walk for Hospice donations.

For those of us who love dogs, there is nothing like their cuddly, unconditional love. My son Kyle adored dogs. We had two when he was growing up, Fenway and then Parka (Get it? Fenway Parka… We aren’t Red Sox fans at all, LOL). We were dogless at the time of Kyle’s diagnosis and during his illness, though.

Even in the very last, oh-so-painful moments, we found comfort and love when our beloved volunteers brought their dogs to his bedside at the Kaplan Family Hospice House. Kyle started having special visitors right from the beginning of his illness. So many beautiful, furry friends were brought to his side, allowing him to feel that unseen connection, that amazing bond, that magical sense of love. He would get so excited when a volunteer or a team member would offer to bring their dog to see him. The whole family experienced the smiles and joy that a dog can bring.

Kyle spent some time talking with his dad and sister about our next dog’s name, which of course would have ties to his favorite super heroes. He decided on Stark if we got a white or grey dog (Iron Man and Game of Thrones) or Rogue for a black Labrador Retriever (Star Wars and X-Men). We cried so much during those conversations. We knew Kyle would not be physically with us to bring home a new puppy, but we were so blessed with the happiness he experienced and the memories we were able to create. All because someone had enough love in their heart to share their doggie and this wonderful organization recognized the profound impact that this could have on the lives of those they serve.

Staff, volunteers help patients find joy and love
I tell you this so you can see the magic that comes from the services provided by Care Dimensions’ incredibly strong and compassionate staff and volunteers who are willing to give of themselves to meet people in their most vulnerable states and help them find joy and love.

We kept our promise to Kyle to get another dog. She is reddish brown so could not be named Rogue or Stark. We decided on Wade Wilson (Deadpool), which was truly Ky’s favorite Marvel character, so we know he would have approved.

I hope to see you at the Walk for Hospice on October 2 at St. John’s Prep in Danvers. It’s a great Walk for you – but also for your dogs, don’t forget!

Register for or donate to Care Dimensions’ Walk for Hospice.

Learn how you can bring joy to a hospice patient with your well trained dog.

About the author
Abbie O’Grady, RN, CHPN, is a Palliative Care Clinical Manager at Care Dimensions.

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Since 1978, Care Dimensions, formerly Hospice of the North Shore,  has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, we offer services in over 100 communities in Massachusetts.

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