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With Grace: Volunteer dogs help ’break the sadness spell’ in palliative care

Author: Susan Schwartz, Montreal Gazette
04 December 2017

As reported by the Montreal Gazette, With Grace: Volunteer dogs help 'break the sadness spell' in palliative care.

When they’re on the palliative care unit at the McGill University Health Centre’s Glen campus, where both are volunteers, Diana Henry takes her cues from Grace — her golden retriever.They start at the door to a patient’s room, with Henry asking whether the patient likes dogs or wants a visit. If they get a yes, Grace heads directly to the bedside and places her head on the patient’s hand, or maybe licks it. And in that moment, a path is cleared for a conversation between Henry and the patient.

“The dog is the facilitator,” said Margrit Meyer, coordinator of the MUHC’s pet therapy program. “The dog is like the catalyst to creating a connection to the patient. I tell the volunteer, ‘It is very important to let the dog make the connection and not to interfere’ — because the dog knows exactly how to do it.”Grace, who is six, is a gentle, mellow creature with a sweet disposition. She wears her name well.

“Grace is a very calm dog who seeks people’s attention — but in a calm way,” Meyer said. “She just wants to be loved. And, even if you are not a dog person, you feel that — that ‘this is a dog I feel I can touch’.”

Read more at the Montreal Gazette.


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