Memorial service held for Baxter, therapy dog
A memorial service was held this week for Baxter, the California therapy dog who, though losing much of his fur and the use of his legs, continued to bring comfort to the dying up until his own death this month at age 19 1/2.
The service Wednesday at the San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine drew nearly 100 friends, family and staff, according to an Associated Press report.
Baxter’s owner, Melissa Joseph, pulled the dog — a chow-golden retriever mix — from room to room in a red wagon and would lift him onto patient’s beds for a visit. (If you haven’t seen the video of Baxter, click here.)
“He licked tears from grieving faces, gave hugs to those at a loss for words, and warmed the hearts and souls of those who were making their transition,” Joseph wrote in her online eulogy. “Everyone loved Baxter.”
Lisa McCullough, spiritual counselor for the inpatient care center, said some patients who refused to share their life stories with staff would talk freely if Baxter was in the room. “And sometimes they opened up about the end of their life’s journey,” McCullough said. “I think Baxter made them feel safe and valued. He has helped just countless patients discover purpose and peace and connection in the last phase of their lives.”
Joseph and her husband, Dennis Bussey, released a book in June called “Moments with Baxter,” a collection of 36 stories about Baxter and his work. Proceeds from the book to go to the hospice and charities that support animal causes.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 30th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baxter, care, comfort, dogs, dying, end of life, hospice, institute for palliative medicine, life, medical, melissa joseph, memorial, moments with baxter, patients, san diego, service, therapy dog, video, wagon