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Therapy Dog Retirement: Celebrating Sam's Journey

Therapy dog Sam embarked on a heartwarming journey as he started the therapy animal program at St. Francis with his therapy dog handler in 2017. With a wagging tail and a heart full of love, Sam became certified in Pet Partners Animal-Assisted Crisis Response (AACR) Program, spreading joy and comfort to countless individuals. Little did he know that when the world faced the challenges of a pandemic, his unwavering companionship would become a beacon of hope for those in need. 

Therapy Dog Crisis Response 

As COVID-19 hit, Sam continued his therapy dog volunteer visits at St. Francis, adapting to the new normal with grace. The power of his presence exceeded the barriers of physical distancing, bringing relief to patients and a sense of normalcy to the medical staff during these trying times. Sam’s ability to provide comfort when it was needed most showcased the impact that a comfort dog can have on the human spirit. 

Over the years, Sam became a beloved therapy dog at St. Francis, leaving a mark on the hearts of everyone he encountered. His gentle demeanor and unconditional love created a welcoming atmosphere, turning ordinary moments into extraordinary memories for patients, nurses, and doctors alike. 

Retirement Honors for Beloved Volunteer Therapy Dog 

As a token of gratitude for Sam’s years of dedicated service as a therapy dog, St. Francis hosted a heartwarming retirement party on February 28, 2024. The event was a bittersweet celebration. Sam’s favorite nurses and doctors gathered to wish him farewell, cherishing the opportunity to receive one last round of kisses and express their gratitude for the joy he brought to the hospital. 

The retirement party was a testament to the profound impact Sam had on the St. Francis community. The occasion served as a reminder that sometimes, a four-legged friend can touch lives in ways that words alone cannot convey. 

A Lasting Legacy 

As Sam transitions into a well-deserved retirement from his pet therapy volunteer career, his legacy will live on in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to experience his warmth and companionship. While his official duties as a therapy dog may have come to an end, the ripples of joy he created will continue to echo through the halls of St. Francis and the memories of those who had the privilege of sharing a moment with him. 

Sam joins thousands of other therapy dogs and other therapy animals who’ve left a remarkable impact on people they comforted in dogs in the classroom, read to a dog library programs, pet visits for the elderly, crisis dog and many more animal-assisted interactions around the world.