TYLER (KYTX)-Ruth Compton has been bringing her dog sophie to volunteer at Hospice of East Texas for the last five years.
"Oh my goodness, we love it. we love it. it's just something that is so rewarding for us," Compton said.
Sophie is part of a group of therapy dogs that come weekly to hospice. Though the patients here are very important to her, the families of the patients are her favorite people to comfort.
"Sophie will just gravitate truly to the person that is the most upset and she will just lean into them and they will begin to pet," Compton said.
Jennifer Ishmael's grandfather is in hospice. She is thankful for the distraction the dogs bring.
"They bring a sense of calmness and comfort and so it helps when you feel like you need something to help you through it," Ishmael said.
And comfort is exactly what Compton's daughter's dog Bailey brings when he jumps up in bed with patients. Bailey settled in with hospice patient Anne Reichardt.
"It fills a little gap, fills a little hole," Reichardt said.
Bailey isn't the only one in his family that relaxes people at hospice. His owner, massage therapist Michelle Compton gives massages to hospice staff.
"Before I got involved with hospice I didn't realize the work that they did so just to be apart and to feel like giving back to them because I see how much they give out," Compton said.
Everyone involved says people don't even know they are getting therapy until the dog leaves. Compton says it's not only the patient who feels better, the dogs and owners do too.
"We absolutely love doing it and we do see the benefit of it," Compton said.
The dogs are all part of an organization called Hearts In Harmony and they don't only volunteer at hospice, they also work with the Department of Youth and Family Services.