Therapy dogs bring comfort to those in hospitals, at nursing homes and in other places where their special love and gentleness is needed. “In the arms of the angel, fly away from here…” Those who come to the San Diego Hospice will leave in the arms of an angel. One who comes to visit them during their final days will soon leave this earth and travel over the Rainbow bridge.
Baxter is a 19-year-old certified therapy dog who comes to the hospice to visit the dying. It’s a perfect arrangement; the dying connecting with each other in an exceptional way only they can understand.
Melissa Joseph is Baxter’s owner and best friend. She takes this old guy to provide the kind of comfort and love a dog’s heart contains. The sweet boy can no longer walk. Melissa gently places him in a wagon and slowly walks down the hospital’s long corridors. Everyone who meets Baxter is glad to receive his attention; from the patients and staff to the relatives of the dying. All love him.
He can’t lift his head, but this doesn’t stop Baxter from reaching out to those needing him. At the patient’s request, Melissa lifts the dear boy who weighs 37-1/2 pounds to lay beside them on their beds. They delight in his soft fur and licks.
Lisa McCollough, San Diego Hospice Chaplain, says she has seen him lick the face of a patient for a half an hour, giving and receiving sweet kisses.
‘When he lies next to a dying person, he seems to have a special way of letting them know that he truly understands. And it’s okay; he seems to say. I’ll be with you.’
Shortly after the video below was taken, Baxter died peacefully in his sleep. Instead of spending time at the hospice, he’s now romping and playing with those he’s met in a place where there’s no pain or illness. But only love and joy. See for yourself what a magnificent dog he was and how he touched the lives of so many.