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News Hospice Therapy Dogs Recognized for Their Service

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When visiting the Historic Carousel & Museum in Albany, you may notice a plaque engraved with the names Callie, Gamine, JJ and Marfa. These four names belong to furry friends who once served as therapy dogs at Samaritan Evergreen Hospice House.

Although the dogs have retired from service or passed away, they left a lasting impression on many at the hospice house.

“Marfa served as a therapy dog for 11 years. I still run into people whose lives she has touched and who ask about her,” said Anne Arquette, Marfa’s owner and registered nurse at Samaritan Evergreen Hospice.

The remaining three therapy dogs served with owner Tracy Calhoun, who is registered nurse at Samaritan Evergreen Hospice House and an instructor with Project Canine. Gamine retired after three years of service; Callie served three; and JJ, six-and-a-half.

Burl Wheaton, a volunteer at Samaritan Evergreen Hospice House, became very attached to JJ.

“JJ was always there at lunch time to see what I had,” said Wheaton.

Wheaton loved watching JJ work her magic. He saw the impact that the dogs had on patients, families and the community.

Wheaton, who is also a volunteer at the carousel, had an opportunity to sponsor a plaque on the carousel fence. He and his wife Marty chose to dedicate it to the dogs, who collectively served 23 years providing therapy to patients.

“This was a perfect opportunity to thank the dogs for their work and remember the lives they have touched,” said Wheaton.

For those wishing to see the plaque, it is mounted on the gate that surrounds the carousel, near the front entrance.