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Hospice of Jefferson County’s therapy dogs prepare for training

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WATERTOWN — At Hospice of Jefferson County on Thursday afternoon, playful barks could be heard and wagging tails seen as furry friends Nora June Shultz and El Floyd Smiley used up some of their energy before bringing love to waiting patients.

El and Nora are the newest Hospice support puppies in training. El, a golden retriever, is 3 months old but is already nearly 30 pounds. Nora, a miniature labradoodle, is 4 months old and weighs about 14 pounds. Though young and untrained, the two are already well on their way to making every day matter for Hospice patients and their families.

The two puppies help make up the therapy and volunteer dog team for Hospice, along with a few older, furry coworkers, including goldendoodle Jack Kellogg, Hospice administrative dog; therapy dogs Casper and Lucy Thornton; and therapy dog BoSox Deuson. BoSox is owned by volunteer Tom Deuson and described by Kathy L. Arendt, director of marketing and community relations, as the organization’s “older statesman,” who has been the go-to therapy dog for years.

Predecessor of El, Floyd Smiley was another golden retriever who brought great joy to staff and patients alike during his visits to Hospice before his death last year at the age of 14. He is remembered fondly by all who knew him. After Floyd’s passing, those at Hospice decided it was time to bring two new puppies into the mix. Now, El carries on his legacy for the Smiley family.

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