Like most Pets on Wheels (PoW) volunteers, Judith Fishman loves dogs and helping others. She regularly visits FutureCare in Reisterstown or Gilchrest Hospice and brings one of her three Golden Retrievers, Barney, Chloe, and Barney with her.
This past year, she and her trio of retrievers and two therapy cats logged more than 250 volunteer hours. In recognition of her time and dedication she will receive the Silver Volunteer Service Award at the POW picnic on July 23rd.
Initially, Judith didn’t think she would be able to participate at FutureCare or Gilchrest. “I didn’t think I would have the stomach for it. FutureCare can be tough because you develop relationships with people and then they die. But my experience there prepared me for Gilchrest,” she said.
She finds Gilchrest especially rewarding, “Patients receive the best quality of care right up to the end. I’m glad that I can be a part of that care,” she says. In addition, she sees the valuable contribution her pets bring to everyone there. “Sometimes the patients are asleep but I let the family know we are also there for them. ” Judith finds volunteering at Gilchrest gratifying. “I feel like the dogs and I have accomplished something.”
As the owner of three Golden Retrievers there’s no doubt about the breed Judith prefers. Her love for this breed introduced her to the world of therapy dogs in nursing homes and other facilities. Thirteen years ago, while attending Goldenstock, an annual summer weekend retreat for the owners of Golden Retrievers she learned about Therapy Dogs International. After volunteering for that organization she became a PoW volunteer.
Judith credits Gilchrest for teaching her more about life and death. She recounts an experience with a patient there who related to Chloe because they both had difficulty breathing. She gave Judith a poem The Dash about the meaning of life. This patient accepted death as a part of life and she had no fears about dying.
Judith still misses that woman. She wishes that she and her dogs could have spent more time with her.
It’s experiences like this that make Judith a dedicated volunteer. It’s also her desire to serve others that compels her to visit FutureCare and Gilchrest.