Mike Muelbach is a retired nurse who says he volunteers at Our Lady of Peace Hospice “to do good and ease the journey of others into the next world.” Mike and his dog, Chuck, a Jack Russell/Terrier mix, bring comfort and joy to patients in their final days.
Mike took his previous dog, Conrad, to work every day at the long-term care facility where he worked and saw the magic he performed. “I watched Conrad draw lonely residents out of their shells, be petted by non-verbal residents, and comfort the dying and their families while sitting at their bedside.”
After Conrad’s death, Mike found 6-month-old Chuck at a Golden Valley shelter. He tried several names, but Chuck is the only name the female dog would respond to. Mike took his new-found friend home.
Soon, Mike brought Chuck to Our Lady of Peace to see how she would interact with the patients and he says, “She was a natural.” So, Mike proceeded with a 10-week training program to become a registered member of the pet therapy team at OLP.
“We volunteer to provide comfort to the dying and their loved ones,” says Mike. “Chuck can give unconditional love as she lies next to a patient and can relieve their mental and physical suffering by triggering memories and distracting them from their situation.” One patient liked Chuck so much that she knit him a sweater!
Volunteering is important to Mike Muelbach, and he feels called to do it. “I believe it was Barbara Jordan, the Representative from Texas, who said, ‘Volunteering is the rent we pay for our place on this earth.’”
Mike and Chuck, thank you for bringing joy to Our Lady of Peace Hospice patients, families, and staff.