Volunteer Spotlight: Susie Davis and Gracie

human animal bond in colorado volunteer team susie davis and her dog gracie
Susie Davis and her dog Gracie visit Denver Hospice weekly as a certified volunteer team with Human-Animal Bond in Colorado.

It takes a very special HABIC team to volunteer to work in a hospice setting. One such team is Susie Davis and her Golden Retriever, Gracie. Susie and Gracie have been volunteering at The Denver Hospice since 2017, visiting the inpatient care facility every week.

Susie and Gracie have many stories to tell; here are two moving experiences which exemplify the power of the human-animal bond and the difference this HABIC volunteer team makes in their local community.

During a visit with a man who was unresponsive and very near the end of his life, Susie entered the room and introduced herself and Gracie. The man made no response, but Susie decided to sit next to the man in silence. After 15 minutes had passed, Susie got up to leave.

As she neared the door the man surprised her when he quietly uttered, “Good-bye Gracie.” This experience truly shows how intuitive Susie was to take the time to sit next to someone, and how impactful it can be to just be in the presence of someone who is at the end of their life, whether they are responsive or not.

During a different visit, Susie and Gracie were in the Hospice main lobby, where they met two teary-eyed little girls who wanted to pet Gracie. As they did, it brought on more tears. Their grandma was near the end of her life and Gracie was able to bring them some comfort.

Then the girls’ mom appeared, and she shared with Susie that her mom once had a Golden named Gracie! Everyone took this as a sign that Gracie needed to visit this patient. As Susie put the grandma’s hand on Gracie’s head, the daughter said, “Gracie’s here mom. It’s okay to go.”

A few hours later, a hospice staff member called Susie to share that the patient passed away peacefully soon after they had left.

These two stories are examples of how, even in just a single visit, one human-animal HABIC team can bring healing and comfort to so many people. Susie and her amazing dog Gracie have brought some much-needed comfort to so many at The Denver Hospice. Susie and Gracie continue to make an impact every week as a certified HABIC volunteer team.

Thank you, Susie and Gracie, for the outstanding work that you do for HABIC and The Denver Hospice community!