Pet Therapy a Prescription for Love, Comfort at Good Samaritan Society – Marley House

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“Would you like to go visit?” That’s all it takes to get a reaction out of Maggie, Melinda McGrath’s 13-year-old greyhound. Her eyes pop open, she tilts her head and she’s off.

Maggie is a therapy dog who volunteers with McGrath at the Good Samaritan Society-Marley House, an inpatient hospice house in Prescott. She even has her own business card, featuring her picture and a list of her favorite treats.

maggie, pet therapy, marley house, prescott

Maggie Pet therapy Dog for Marley House

The Marley House cares for people in the final stage of life who need around-the-clock nursing services that cannot be managed at home. While there are other hospice houses in the United States, the Marley House is unique in the Prescott region. That’s why McGrath urges support for its mission.

“Medicare helps, and with the endowment, getting this care would be less of a financial burden on families,” McGrath said. “There are a lot of older people in our community who may need this service one day.”

The Marley House endowment provides unrestricted support for the work of health, healing and comfort that happens within its rooms. Having a robust endowment means that the Marley House is prepared for whatever its patients and families need.

Maggie makes her rounds

Maggie and Melinda make the rounds at the Marley House about once per week. They can spend anywhere from 15 minutes to more than an hour per week. It depends on how many patients are there and whether they want a visit.

They always start with the nurses’ station.

“The staff are equally important,” McGrath said. “They have hard days, too.”

The healing power of animals

McGrath said they are careful to check with patients and their families first before entering a room. She keeps a pocketful of Maggie’s favorite treats handy to help break the ice. The dog’s presence often gets people to open up.

“Some had dogs and cannot have them anymore,” McGrath explains. “They miss their pets. That’s where Maggie comes in. The conversation flows from those memories, and I follow the story.”
McGrath said she often gets so engrossed in the conversation that Maggie whines with impatience.
“I have to tell her, ‘I might want to chat, too, Maggie,’” she says with a laugh. “She gets anxious when she isn’t the center of attention.”

The faith-based mission draws volunteer

McGrath said she was originally drawn in by the Good Samaritan Society’s mission.

“I hope Good Samaritan never gets rid of its spiritual component,” she said. “I love that this community is more open to the faith life.”

She and Maggie will continue volunteering, in part, because McGrath recognizes the importance of the Marley House in a community the size of Prescott. Volunteering there is also good therapy for her and for Maggie.

“I feel blessed when we come in here,” McGrath said. “In all ways, it’s a blessing.”

The Bob Mariano Memorial Golf Classic for the Marley House Endowment Fund presented by Lamb Chevrolet will be held on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. This event is limited to the first 100 golfers to register. For more information or to support the endowment fund visit good-sam.com/marleygolf or call (928) 460-9678.

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