Flagler County shelter dog touched lives as a hospice visitor.

Amy Carotenuto, Executive Director
 |  The Daytona Beach News-Journal

Very often at the shelter, we have folks who come in bearing gifts — bags of pet food, pet beds and pet toys. We know what that usually means: they have lost their beloved pet. So, as much as we are appreciative of their gifts, we are sad for their origin.

The following is a letter from one such pet owner, thanking us for our thank-you letter.  

Their dog’s story was so special, I asked if we could share it with our readers. The following is from Paul Wilhelmsen, otherwise known as Ginger’s Dad.

“Thank-you for your mail regarding our awesome pet Ginger, who we had to put down due to her cancer; she was a little over 13 years old. Ginger (who Flagler Humane Society named ‘Wanda’) was adopted from your facility in late January 2012. I had been a volunteer with the Florida Hospital Flagler (now AdventHealth) Hospice program for 2 years, and when I saw that Ginger had some really special personality traits conducive to visiting people, I enrolled her in their Hospooch program for visiting terminally ill patients and folks undergoing cancer treatment, as well as their family and friends.   

“Ginger became a registered therapy dog and she was off and running in the program with me. She soon established herself as one of the top dogs in the program and soon became their poster dog, in which the program had her interviewed and placed in the newspaper on several occasions as well as placing her in several local magazines. She was also invited to attend several of the Hospice Foundations meetings to greet members of the community and show what a ‘Hospooch’ was capable of doing. One thing that she excelled at (and I never taught her this!) was to enter a room at the Stuart F. Meyer Hospice House and upon entering the room, she would go to each and every person in the room and give them a special greeting before going over to the patient lying in bed. This was amazing as there were several occasions wherein there were upwards of 16 people in a room and she went around the room recognizing each and every person! Ginger, during the 5 years she was in the program before ‘retiring’, had personal and physical contact with almost 5,000 patients and family/friends! Amazing…

“Ginger was recognized by the program in numerous ways, including being on their first annual calendar’s front cover, of which I have attached a pic of her on the calendar’s cover.

“We are just so very thankful for the time we had with this awesome pet, she will be greatly missed and we are so happy to have been able to donate some of her items to the place where it all began.

“Thank-you and may God Bless all that you folks are doing!

“Sincerely, Paul Wilhelmsen”

We hope that our readers enjoyed hearing Ginger’s accomplishments. Dogs are amazing creatures. Ginger knew, without any training, that her unconditional love was important to people during their last days and their families. Thank you, Ginger, for a life well lived.  

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