Meet Patty Fritz and therapy dog Romeo, both are pet therapist volunteers at Hospice of the Red River Valley. Pet therapists provide additional comfort and care to our patients through companionship with a licensed pet therapy animal.
Name: Patty Fritz and therapy dog Romeo
Location: Fargo, N.D.
Volunteer Role: Pet therapist
Volunteering Since: April 2017
Tell us about your role and why you choose to volunteer with Hospice of the Red River Valley.
My Grandma Agnes, Uncle Jack and Aunt Barb were all helped with the services of Hospice of the Red River Valley as their time to journey home arrived. The experiences were of peace and joy.
As people of faith, we believe that we are here for a short time until the journey takes us ‘home.’ But those of us who are left behind find great comfort in the manner in which Hospice of the Red River Valley helps both those passing on and those that are left to do more work here.
That is my “why I volunteer.” To bring some peace and joy to those who are on that journey home. I have a great love of animals; dogs in particular. I find great peace and joy just looking into a dog’s eyes. If you have known the friendship of an animal, you understand the emotion they can bring to you. If my dog and I can bring that feeling of comfort that animal lovers have, we are happy to do it!
We visit patients and, many times, it is the last time they get to pet an animal, feel the softness of their hair, the gentle touch of a little “dog kiss” on their hand and the memories of animals who were so special to them. Our hope is that we can make those joyful memories and bring some peace and joy at the same time.
Tell us about one of your favorite volunteer experiences at Hospice of the Red River Valley.
My favorite memory was with a 90-year-old patient. We had such a nice visit. My pet partner, Romeo, ran right up to her and her face lit up with a big smile.
Romeo sat down right beside her and put his head close to her hands as she sat in her recliner. She was snuggled in for the night, and we just talked. We shared animal stories, stories of her family, her life and how she came to Fargo.
Romeo sat there the whole visit looking into her eyes. She would look at him, stroke his head and just giggle and smile. I could tell that we made a difference for her that night. We brought peace and joy.
I remember saying out loud to Romeo (yes, you talk out loud to dogs!) as we were leaving, “Yes, this is why we do this Romeo, to bring the joy to people.”
What would you say to someone who is interested in volunteering with Hospice of the Red River Valley?
If you have the want or the need to bring joy and peace for even just a few minutes to a fellow human, do it! Your gift of a conversation, a story, a sharing of talent, allowing someone to share about their family or just taking a few minutes to bring a little joy is so, so rewarding. You’ll be amazed at the comfort you feel in bringing that joy! It changes you in a wonderful way!
At Hospice of the Red River Valley, we’re fortunate to have dedicated volunteers of all ages and backgrounds throughout our service area. The Volunteer Spotlight celebrates their contributions to the organization and the ways they enrich our patients’ lives.
Want to become a volunteer? Whatever your skills and interests, we have a role for you! Learn how to get started.