Norm Pursinski and his dog Oliver make quite a team as dedicated volunteers with Optage Hospice. Oliver is a certified therapy dog through Therapy Dogs International, does agility competitions and visits children in a reading program. An animal's unconditional love is a special treat, especially for someone at the end of life. Norm and Oliver have given more than 100 hours visiting with Optage Hospice clients in the Twin Cittis west metro area.
A man and his dog;
Norm is a retired police detective who was looking for an opportunity to serve the community in a different way than law enforcement. Soon after Oliver came to hom in 2011, Norm read a news article about the need for therapy dogs to serve people at the end of life. Even as a puppy, Oliver had the perfect temperment to be a therapy dog.
...become a caring team;
Oliver is well trained and knows his job. “I'm just the guy at the other end of the leash,” said Norm. “Oliver does all the work.” When the two arrive at a client's home, Norm unclips the leash and Oliver runs straight to the client, hops up on the bed, couch or chair and puts his head in the client's lap. On command, he remains quiet and calm while the individual benefits from his company.
...with rewarding results;
Norm finds volunteering with Optage Hospice to be personally rewarding. “I get more back than I ever feel like I'm giving,” Norm reflects. He is touched by how deep his relationships have become. “I don't realize how close I am to clients until they have passed away. They're like family to us,” he said.
...and we appreciate them deeply.
Sarah Cobb, Volunteer Coordinator for Optage Hospice said, “I feel so blessed and honored to have Norm and Oliver serving our clients." She tells of one client in particular whom Norm has been visiting since he started. Oliver knows exactly what room to go in and is gentle and loving with the client. Oliver sits on her lap and cuddles up to her as Norm takes them on a wheelchair walk. "We are so grateful for the wonderful memories Norm and Oliver have created for our clients," she said.
Thank you to Norm and Oliver for your meaningful service as a volunteer team for Optage Hospice.
Become a Hospice Volunteer
To learn more about volunteering with Optage Hospice contact Sarah by email or call 651-631-6362. She is happy to share with you a variety of ways to give your time and talent in service.