Human-Animal Bond In Colorado
It takes a very special HABIC team to visit in a hospice setting. One such team is Susie Davis and her Golden Retriever, Gracie. Susie and Gracie have been volunteering at The Denver Hospice since 2017. They visit the Inpatient Care Center every week and have some moving experiences we would like to share.
During a visit with a man who was unresponsive and very near the end of his life, Susie entered the room and introduced herself and Gracie. The man made no response, but Susie decided to sit next to the man in silence. After 15 minutes had passed, Susie got up to leave. As she neared the door the man surprised her when he quietly uttered, “Good-bye Gracie.” This experience truly shows how intuitive Susie was to take the time to sit next to someone, and how impactful it can be to just be in the presence of someone who is at the end of their life, whether they are responsive or not.
During a different visit, Susie and Gracie were in the Hospice main lobby. They saw two teary-eyed little girls, and they wanted to pet Gracie. As they did, it brought on more tears. Their grandma was near the end of her life and Gracie was able to bring them some comfort. Then the girls’ mom appeared, and she shared with Susie that her mom once had a Golden named Gracie! Everyone took this as a sign that Gracie needed to visit this patient. As Susie put the grandma’s hand on Gracie’s head the daughter said, “Gracie’s here mom. It’s okay to go.” A few hours later, Hospice called Susie to share that the patient passed away peacefully soon after they had left.
These two stories are a small sample of how one human-animal HABIC team can bring healing and comfort to so many people, even in just a single visit. Susie and her amazing dog, Gracie, have brought some much needed comfort to the people of The Denver Hospice, and make such an impact to so many more every week.
Thank you, Susie and Gracie, for the outstanding work that you do for HABIC and The Denver Hospice community!
The love of a companion animal is uncomplicated and unconditional, naturally received and returned by people of all ages. Housed in the School of Social Work at Colorado State University, HABIC sponsors animal therapy programs, education, and research to explore and advance the benefits of the human-animal bond.