A dog with a job…and a bandanna

Jim Findlay and Therapy Dog MurphyVolunteer, Jim Findlay, prepares his therapy dog, Murphy, for a visit to the hospice by placing a special bandanna around his neck.

“Murphy is like Jekyll and Hyde,” says Jim. “When the bandanna is on, Murphy knows he’s working. He becomes more relaxed, and he’ll stand with people and allow them to pet him. As soon as we get home and I take that bandanna off, this 10-year old dog becomes a pup.”

Jim and Murphy visit with residents and family members every week. Jim enjoys the moment when he sees a resident’s face light up at the sight of Murphy.

“It’s hard to explain that feeling you get when you see the joy you’ve brought to someone,” says Jim. “I can’t do anything medically for them, but at least I can bring a little bit of joy and comfort to their day.”

The hospice training program teaches volunteers how to support residents and family members who need to talk. Jim finds that Murphy is an effective icebreaker, offering a welcome distraction during an emotional time for people. Murphy is just as likely to be found sitting quietly next to a resident as they run their hands over his fur, as he is posing in a family photo.

“The volunteer training gave me a whole new outlook on life,” says Jim. “The experience in this place has been unbelievable. You’d like to think that someday, maybe someone will be there for you if I need it.”