Local hospice needs calm, friendly dogs to help comfort and relax patients

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Everyone knows Janet and Reilly at Suncoast Hospice Care Center in Palm Harbor.

Janet is a former nurse who has battled back from both cancer and a foot injury to be a source of calm and comfort for patients and families going through difficult times.

And Reilly is an 8-year-old “pet visitor,” a Labradoodle mix who has a loving demeanor and natural desire to provide both relaxation and distraction for everyone, staff included.

“Before we leave home when I get out my ID tag, and then my ID tag, she gets all excited,” says Janet of her furry partner. “She starts jumping around. She knows.”

Janet and Reilly are part of a pet therapy program at Suncoast Hospice, which is looking for more dogs (and owners) to volunteer.

“They help people relax, divert attention, help reduce stress and bring smiles,” says Suncoast Hospice’s Alicia Lawler. “It’s a gift from the heart from both Janet and Reilly.”

For more information on the program, click here.

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