Anna Feindel and her Australian Shepherd, Princess Grace Kelly—Kelly for short—are a dynamic duo dedicated to bringing comfort and smiles to the palliative care unit every week. Certified with Caring Paws Animal Therapy, Anna and Kelly share an extraordinary bond, marked by their shared mission to offer solace and joy to those facing life’s most challenging moments.

Anna introduces Kelly to patients by gently asking if they would like a visit from a dog. The moment they see Kelly, their faces light up, captivated by her beauty and gentle presence. Kelly, understanding the gravity of her role, switches to her ‘work mode,’ instinctively knowing to maintain a calm and comforting demeanor, distinct from her playful nature outside of these visits.

Their routine is simple yet profoundly impactful. Kelly approaches the bed, offering her paw or a gentle nuzzle, allowing patients to feel her warmth and companionship. More than just a visit, it’s an exchange of unconditional love and understanding. Kelly’s intuitive ability to sense emotion enables her to provide special attention to family members as well. She may sit on a visitor’s foot or lean against them, offering her presence as a source of comfort during moments of sadness or reflection.

The effect of Kelly’s visits extends beyond the immediate joy and comfort she brings. The underlying science of pet therapy underscores the benefits such interactions have on patients’ well-being, highlighting the profound connection between humans and animals. Kelly’s work is demanding; after an hour or so of intense emotional engagement, she signals to Anna that she’s ready to rest, demonstrating the depth of her empathy and the physical and emotional energy she invests in each visit.

Anna and Kelly’s story is one of compassion, empathy, and the unique healing power of animal companionship. Their dedication to palliative care patients is a beautiful reminder of the comfort and peace that can be found in the presence of a loving animal.

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