Dogs have certainly earned the title “man’s best friend.” They’re highly intelligent, friendly, affectionate, and totally loyal. They’re also amenable to training, and not just for fun tricks. Working dogs can herd sheep, guide the blind, sniff for contraband, serve as therapy dogs, and much more.
A dog named Baxter was a therapy dog at the San Diego Hospice and Institute for Palliative Medicine, a facility that specializes in end-of-life care. Baxter would be wheeled into a patient’s room in his wagon — like many of the patients he visited, this 19 year-old dog couldn’t walk anymore. A staff member would then place Baxter on the bed next to the patient and he would provide some much-needed comfort, helping the patients (and their loved ones) get through a difficult, emotionally wrenching time. Even though they were together only a short time, Baxter and the people he cared for actually formed surprisingly strong bonds. The hospice’s chaplain said it well: “Baxter just seems to know how to provide the care that people need.”
Baxter was such a great dog, a book was written about him. As the author explains, “There’s an uncanny congruity that develops: Baxter at the end of his life, the patient at the end of their life. Baxter truly is the perfect,world’s best therapy dog. When he gets in bed with the patient or with a family member on the sofa, something happens in a room. All of a sudden, for a moment, you would think that everybody was alive, really alive.”
We’ve posted a video biography of Baxter for you below. In some ways, it’s sad and heartbreaking, but at the same time, it’s inspirational, a celebration of the best, most devoted, and oldest therapy dog in the world. Sadly, Baxter passed away soon after the video was made, but he helped an incredible number of people during his life.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about this touching story in the comments at Facebook. Be sure to like and share so everyone hears about the important work therapy dogs do.