Lakeview Health System

Thursday, December 06, 2018 - Seeking volunteers and pets to bring comfort to hospice patients

Lakeview Hospice is seeking registered pet therapy dogs and handlers to make a difference by bringing comfort and compassion to hospice patients in their homes across Washington County (Minnesota) and St. Croix County (Wisconsin).

“The dog opens up so many doors for communication,” said Pat Bettendorf, who currently volunteers for Lakeview Hospice with his two registered Pitbull-mix therapy dogs, Jake and Sugar. “It’s rewarding and it’s so necessary. You know you’ve done something for that person in their last days or weeks or months and you are better for it. I know they appreciate our visits. You’ve made a difference in somebody’s life. You’ve made that person a little happier for a little while.”

Pet therapy teams can:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Encourage storytelling and reminiscing
  • Bring joy to patients who have had to give up their own pet

Dogs should be at least two years old, calm, obedient and certified by Therapy Dogs International (or similar organization). Adult handlers will need to take approximately 20-25 hours of hospice training (no charge).

Nancy Kuckler, Lakeview Hospice volunteer coordinator, said: “I hear stories of so many patients who are touched by our pet therapy dogs and handlers. We would love to add additional teams so we can bring their comfort and joy to more patients at a delicate, meaningful time in their lives.”

Contact Nancy Kuckler at Lakeview Hospice for more information by calling 651-275-8255, emailing or view a video featuring Lakeview Hospice therapy dog and handler team Pat Bettendorf and Jake at

Pat Bettendorf with therapy dog Jake.