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Our Pet Connections Teams

My Breed:
Golden Retriever

My Human Partner:
Frank Turco

I’ve been an HOV Volunteer since:

My interests, hobbies and talents:
I was born in Oklahoma in 2009 at a puppy mill and bred to become a “mom.” The owners kept me in a cage and seldom allowed me to run free and play with other dogs. Fortunately, when I was eight months old, the business closed and Arizona Golden Rescue took me to Phoenix. A month later, my new owners took me to my forever home. After a while, they decided to put me to work — this time as a therapy dog. Because of my puppy mill memories, I was a bit worried about working. But as it turned out, being a therapy dog isn’t really work after all. All I need to do is let people fuss over me, pet me, hug me and say nice things about me. What’s not to love about that?

My work at HOV:
You should see how excited I get when my dad brings out my doggie work bag and puts my HOV vest on me. I beat him to the car every time. My dad and I work every week, visiting patients at a group home and at a skilled nursing facility where we have made many special friends and have a great time. We roam the halls and see lots of different people, many of whom ask us to come into their rooms. Whenever I see someone in a wheelchair no matter where we are, I pull my dad over to them so I can tell them “hello.” These people usually give me a few pets and a hug, too. In addition to my regular stops, I am very lucky because we regularly take part in many other HOV activities, including new volunteer orientation, community events and employee wellness visits. I was even featured one time in a Hospice of the Valley calendar. I’m so glad I ended up in my forever home, doing this wonderful work.


My Breed:
Afghan Hound

My Human Partners:
John and Pam Hickey

I’ve been an HOV Volunteer since: 

My interests, hobbies and talents: 
Duncan was born in Phoenix in 2010 among a litter of twelve. Although he was bred to be a show dog, he was disqualified for congenital issues. Thankfully his human parents had no desire to show him anyway. Instead they intended to train him to be a therapy dog when they adopted him as a young puppy. Duncan was a born natural at his therapy work and required less training than his humans!

Duncan gets brushed every day and a shower once a week, complete with conditioning and combing of his long, lovely locks. He goes for long walks each day with his human Dad and big adopted sister (Yana Rose, another blue brindle Afghan Hound whom he loves very much). Weighing 61 pounds, Duncan thinks of himself as a “little” dog and likes other little dogs. His favorite pastimes are keeping the sofa or bed warm and hanging out with his Dad. No day is complete without his regular, passionate patrols of the backyard for cats. He loves to go for car rides, the longer the better.

My work at HOV: 
Duncan has been a therapy dog since he was one year old. As an Afghan Hound, he is the perfect height to lay his head in a patient’s lap or bedside for a gentle pat on his head and rub behind his ear. If offered a treat by a patient, he gently takes it from their delicate hands, as if he understands how fragile they are. He is very sensitive and actually cried with a grieving family. Duncan has a diverse resume with HOV, including Ryan House, skilled nursing facilities, memory units, private homes and employee wellness visits at several HOV locations. He knows he is going to work when his Dad puts his HOV scarf on him.


Therapist Name:
Spencer Retchin

My Breed:

My Human Partner:
Betsy Retchin

I’ve been an HOV Volunteer since:

My interests, hobbies and talents:
I am a professional dancer (for treats of course!) and am willing to give lessons for free. I love to watch all the beautiful birds that fly into our yard. My favorite hobby is visiting patients.

My work at HOV:
I visit patients weekly at Hospice of the Valley’s Gardiner Home and at group homes where people who love little dogs live. I like to sit next to them or on their laps, which is great since I get to look at them and they get to pet me. I also meet and greet visitors who happen my way while I’m out on my visits. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to say hi to the community people who come to our Hospice of the Valley events. I just love all the attention! Last but not least, since I’m also good with kids, I visit our New Song Center for Grieving Children.


My Breed:
Chocolate Labrador

My Human Partner:
Ilyse Stern

I’ve been an HOV Volunteer since:

My interests, hobbies and talents:
My mom and I are involved in showing off our skills in two venues involving agility. One is the American Kennel Club agility competition. Agility is an athletic event that requires conditioning, training and teamwork. Teams must negotiate an obstacle course while racing against the clock! I started 2.5 years ago and this year received a championship versatility award. I am now in all elite classes and working toward the highest level. Last summer we even traveled to Yellowstone and Utah for agility. Life doesn’t get much better than that! I also got to try dock diving this summer which was tons of fun. Earlier this year my mom said I had to help raise a service dog puppy. I wasn’t thrilled but she’s really kind of cool. I hope she gets to stay forever, but mom says she is gonna go help someone special soon.

My work at HOV:
I used to spend hours trying to help my sick human grandparents smile and feel better. My mom recognized my special talent so she made it official and we became a Pet Connections team for Hospice of the Valley. We wanted to help others. We started out going to a few small group homes and then to see a great lady in her own home. Then we found a wonderful skilled/assisted nursing facility. We go every week to see our friends. Usually they are waiting for us… some even have little parties for me and I get special treats. I am a good girl and everyone there seems to like me a lot. I really love going and can’t wait to run in to see all my favorite patients and staff!

Shanti & Gretchen

Rhodesian Ridgeback and Terrier Mix

Our Human Partner:
Kathy Krishnan

I’ve been an HOV volunteer since:
2012 and 2016, respectively

Our interests, hobbies & talents:
Shanti and Gretchen love to hike with their mom and dad, but Gretchen makes fun of Shanti because she doesn’t like to get her feet wet and she’s so slow on the trails! Shanti says she’s all about taking in the scenery! Shanti and Gretchen both have a lot of commands and tricks they use to bring smiles to the HOV patients they visit.

Why we enjoy our work at HOV:
Because Shanti is a big girl and Gretchen is little, they visit with patients and families in different ways. Shanti is sometimes mistaken for a boy since she’s so big, so on her visits, she wears her pearl necklace so people know she’s a girly girl! To show off her skills, she carries a basket with all her commands inside and allows patients to pick one from the basket to perform. She’s a bit of a show off!

According to her mom, Gretchen can be a bit of a wild child at home, but when she puts her HOV vest on, she’s all business. Gretchen loves cuddling up next to her patients, either in their lap, on a bed or right next to them on a chair. One of her favorite facility rooms to visit is the beauty shop where all the ladies laugh at her wild hairdo!

Both girls love visiting their friends in group homes and skilled nursing facilities and hope that they provide some joy to others.

Caesar & Rufus

Pet therapists Caesar and Rufus

Our Breeds:
Golden Retriever and Chihuahua/Rat Terrier Mix

Our Human Partner:
Karen Davis

We’ve been an HOV Volunteer since:
2009 and 2013 respectively

Our interests, hobbies and talents:
Caesar: I like to eat everything, even though my Mom doesn't let me eat everything I want. I also like playing with my sister, snoozing in my dog beds,and short walks up the street.

Rufus: I may be little but I also love to eat! I prefer snuggling in the fur of my Golden brother and sister over dog beds any day. I like to run real fast in the yard and play. Short walks are the best, but since I don’t like the cold, I prefer to walk only when it is warm out. I don't know how I got here to my home, but when I was a puppy I found myself in my Mom and Dad's garage. My Mom tried hard to find my people, but no one came for me. That was OK because I knew I had already found my forever home.

Our work at HOV:
Caesar: My first HOV patient was my favorite one ever. We visited her every week for a very long time. She kept treats just for me in her drawer and I knew exactly which drawer too. I love wearing my vest and going to the Palliative Care Unit or group homes.

Rufus: I started in 2013. I like all kinds of people. I can relax and sleep a lot at home, but when I am out I get so excited. I can calm down and get petted, which is lots of fun. I love wearing my vest since I know that means I am off to work.


Pet therapist Gracie

My Breed:
Golden Retriever

My Human Partner:
Joni Cipollone

I’ve been an HOV Volunteer since:
July 2015

My interests, hobbies and talents:
Since I was 4 months old and big enough to do so, I have enjoyed retrieving the newspaper every morning for Mom and Dad. It gives me a job to do and I know I'll get a treat as my reward. Like most Golden Retrievers, I love the pool, a pond, a lake, a mud hole—you get it, anything with water. If you add in tossing the ball to me, this could go on for hours and hours. I love to go to our cabin in the woods where I hike and explore all the wonderful scents that the forest has to offer. If I'm lucky I get to go in the winter too and play in the snow. You might think I’m always wet, muddy or full of leaves or snow from all my fun adventures. However, I also like my Tuesday showers before HOV volunteer day. After all, I want to be at my finest to visit my special HOV people!

My work at HOV:
My work began in patients’ homes, which was fun. Each patient had different needs and I learned to adapt. I love to be petted. Since I'm a big girl and can't get up on the bed, I often get invited to sit on an ottoman next to my patient for easy snuggling. For the past year Mom and I visit the Beatitudes Campus every week, where we are welcomed by the caregivers, residents, and our hospice patients and staff. We love it here. In the summer when it is really hot outside I get to wear my red shoes to protect my paws since the parking lot is very hot. This is a big hit with everyone we see. They know me as the dog with the red shoes. I know when it's HOV day because my vest comes out and I can't wait to put it on and go. Mom and I are lucky to be part of this wonderful organization.


My Breed: Wheaton Terrier/Poodle mix

My Human Partner: Greg Kudron

HOV volunteer since: December 2013

My interests, hobbies and talents:
After being abandoned in a field, I was found and relocated to "public housing" in Phoenix. Such a loud and intimidating place! Then my forever Dad came along and brought me home to Mom and all the comforts I could hope for. Now it's my turn to share the comfort with others who may need the quiet company I provide. I love sitting on laps and letting my friends gently pet me and take comfort in our friendship. I am a group home specialist where I can really get to know my friends by name. When I put on my HOV vest, I get excited because I know it's time to visit and hopefully make a positive difference in lives.

My work at HOV:
At home I can be a little lazy because it's so comfortable. But I love going to the park and running free. I chase the ball but then it's all about keep away. I'm a treat eater and can roll over and dance to get my evening celery or carrots (my eyesight is excellent!) or broccoli. I have such a good life and am so glad that I can share it with people who can really appreciate it.

Monte Core

My Breed:  Irish Wolfhound/Terrier

My Human Partner:  Nancy Smith

HOV volunteer since:  March 2012

My interests, hobbies and talents:

I was lucky enough to go to my “fur-ever” home with my human mom when I was 1 ½ years old. Since then I want to go everywhere she goes and just love rides in my mom’s truck (inside the comfy cab of course). My mom says I’m unique... and please allow me to add that I’m smart too…I know a mere 38 commands. I also love to play fetch with my ball or bark, jump, and run circles at birds and low-flying helicopters. 

My work at HOV:  

I visit HOV patients anywhere my mom takes me, including skilled nursing facilities, group homes and private homes. I am especially famous for modeling the many, many lights that my mom attaches to my HOV vest for events such as the Electric Light Parade and Light Up a Life.

Currently I visit an adult palliative care unit and the children at Ryan House. I pride myself on being more reserved at the PCU, behaving in a very calm and gentle manner, often not wanting to leave the bedsides. When we pull into the driveway at Ryan House however, it’s a different story.  I get so excited!  What can I say? I just love those kids. I take my cue from each child and will lay down beside them as close as I can, or play hide-and-seek, or paint with them (I let them put my paws into paint for them to decorate their paper -- I love my purple feet for days thereafter!), or lay quietly a few feet away from the children who aren’t quite sure about having a dog visitor.


My Breed: American Cocker Spaniel

My Humans: Kathy Glaeser-Pater & Leslie Pater
HOV volunteer since: May 2015
My interests, hobbies and talents:
My mom and dad think that I was heaven-sent to them by the two Cocker Spaniel furkids that they lost to cancer two months prior to me joining the family. I used to tag along with my much older hound dog brother when he visited older residents at my "grandmother's" retirement community. He taught me the basics of how to be gentle with these very special people.
My hobbies include playing with my three puppies at home. I also live with two cats who I think believe they are dogs! I love to do tricks especially for my favorite treats: carrots, frozen green beans and banana chips. I have passed my Canine Good Citizen test and am an AKC Therapy Dog.

My work at HOV:
My work at HOV involves visiting older patients in HOV palliative care units, group homes, and skilled/assisted living facilities. Sometimes they do not remember me from visit to visit but that's ok. They still talk to me, pet and hug me, give me belly rubs, or even ask for kisses (which I happily oblige). I don’t even mind if they forget and call me by different names. It really doesn't matter to me. I just enjoy making people laugh and smile and I’m good at my job.


My breed: Pit bull & Xoloitzcuintli mix

My human partner: Laura Goodhue Allen

HOV volunteer since: 2013

My interests, hobbies and talents:
I was adopted from the county shelter when I was six months old. I was brought home to my forever family including canine big sisters and a brother. My big brother Lug Nut was the first HOV pet therapist of the family and he helped me learn how to be the well-behaved therapy dog that I am today.

My favorite thing to do is chew on bones and chase tennis balls. I haven’t learned yet that I’m supposed to bring the tennis ball back to my human. Rather, I think it’s fun to run once I get the ball. Luckily my brothers do know what to do with it, so I’m off the hook for playing fetch myself. 

My work at HOV:
My work at HOV involves visiting various group homes and assisted living facilities. Mom tells me I’m going to work, but what she calls work is me getting petted and showing off some of my tricks.  I’m not sure why she calls it work exactly? Mostly I sit next to nice, older people and let them pet me. Everyone is always so excited to see me, and I’m excited to see them! What a great job I have. I also happen to think I make a great ambassador for both of my breeds, which can so often be misunderstood or unknown to people. 


My breed: Wheaten Terrier Mix
My human partner: Shannon Edwards
HOV volunteer since: January 2014
My interests, hobbies and talents:
My interests revolve around people. I was found as a stray puppy in the farmlands of Waddell, Arizona, but I now have a forever home with two mommies! I am very proud to say that I am a registered therapy dog and earned the Canine Good Citizen and the Advanced Canine Good Citizen titles. I love visiting with the elderly, young and anyone in-between. I am featured in JibJab commercials for e-greeting cards. The HOV Mesa White Dove Thrift Shoppe asked me to perform a skit. That was a blast—lots of customers laughing and clapping. I like being the center of attention.
My work at HOV:
My work at HOV is rewarding. I call it “fur therapy” for humans. Everyone seems to need it. I visit folks in independent and assisted living, and a memory care unit. I lay quietly by their feet if they just want to talk to Mom, or I lie next to them in bed so they can pet and talk to me. Some don’t talk, but they sure smile big when my Mom takes their hand to stroke my fur.
My photo tells the whole story:
I am proud to represent Hospice of the Valley and hold my head up high to wear the HOV vest.


My Breed: Labrador/Chesapeake Bay Retriever

My Human Partner: Dee Potter

HOV Volunteer since: March 2012

My interests, hobbies and talents: 
I am a dedicated family dog and enjoy my time about the house or wherever my family happens to take me. Even while I’m happily napping at my family’s feet, I am “on the job” providing security and companionship. All year round, I love a quick dip in my family’s swimming pool, which I am sure they installed just for me.

I am a serious hiker, as well, with a no-nonsense focus in the wilderness, desert and mountains. If my crew stops for a quick snack or break, I decide when it’s time to get back on the trail. So don’t remove your backpack, unless you're digging for a treat for me! Then, “Let’s go.” I’m not all that demanding—if we come to a stream or pool of water, I love chasing sticks thrown in, swimming back with it in my mouth, and am ready to do it all over again.
My work at HOV:  
When not on the trail, napping, or in the pool, I am a great therapy dog, if I do say so myself. I love that my human lets me show my gentle side. I seem to sense the pain, confusion and other emotions people are feeling. I know that even when just standing with patients, I am helping.

My owner and I are a team. We are meant to do this awesome helping job together. I’ve visited HOV clients everywhere, and it makes me feel good to see so many people smile, pet me, or just scratch my belly. However, I also realize that this is therapy for the patients, their family, staff and other visitors.

Buddy Love

Pet therapist Buddy Love

My breed: Tibetan Spaniel

My human partner: Karen Connell

HOV volunteer since: 2015

My interests, hobbies and talents:
I love chew toys, especially my “keys” and stuffed hamburger. I am fast as a bullet and jump like a mountain goat. I play hard and I sleep hard, looking like a furry rag doll tossed onto the sofa when I am in recovery mode.

My work at HOV:
Mom says I am a natural for a therapy dog. Plus I am incredibly soft which seems to draw people to stroke and pet my fluffy blond coat. I sense when someone is tired or not feeling well and love to bring smiles to weary souls. I love all kinds of people, young or old, especially when I sense they need comfort. I like visiting facilities where I can see all kinds of people, just a few minutes at a time. Recently we have started with home visits and I love the extra time getting to know that special patient one-on-one.


My breed: Poodle mix   
My human partner: Diane Bykowski
HOV volunteer since: February 2012

My interests, hobbies and talents:
I love wearing pretty clothes and even have my very own tiara. Velcro could be my middle name since I follow mommy everywhere. It's fun learning new tricks, going for rides and stopping for vanilla ice cream. 

Before mommy adopted me, I was a stray and on the euthanasia list at the county shelter. Since then, I've been featured in ads and a commercial for PetSmart. I earned my CGC, advanced certification and Distinguished Therapy Dog Award. I do many tricks—dancing, saluting, ringing a tap bell for my food, pushing a shopping cart, riding an exercise ball & praying.

My work at HOV:
I visit group homes, assisted living facilities and private homes. Many of my patients have dementia.  One time when mommy put a man’s hand on my head, his fingers started to move and he said, “You are so soft.”  That might not seem like anything special, but he had not spoken in many months. One of my favorite patients was a lady who was nearly 100 years young and had owned fancy ladies dress stores. She knew fashion and loved the outfits I wore. One time we did a fashion show of my outfits, and she commentated what I was wearing. Most of the time I sit in laps or snuggle close to patients in their beds so I can be loved on. Being an HOV volunteer is the best!

Max and Lexie

Pet therapists Max and Lexie

Our breed: Miniature Schnauzers

Human partners: Amy & Steve Adams

HOV volunteers since:
Max: June 2013; Lexie: October 2014.

Our interests, hobbies and talents:
We enjoy waking our mom every morning at 6 a.m. with warm kisses and wagging tails, then going for a mile-long walk through the neighborhood.

Our work at HOV:
Both of us visit the same skilled nursing facility. Lexie and I both lay on the bed very close to the patient. I especially like being scratched behind my ears and having my beard tugged. Lexie’s coat is like silk. She loves getting pets as much as our patients love giving them.
When we walk into the activity room, the faces light up and we hear chants of “Max! Lexie! Please come see me!” It is so rewarding to see the smiles on everyone’s faces and know that we are bringing joy into their lives. Many remember their pets and have a story to share. It’s so heartwarming.


My breed: Shetland Sheepdog

Our human partner: Karen Burleson
HOV volunteers since: 2011

Our interests, hobbies and talents: 
I just love being with my mom, whether it's sleeping in bed with her at night or going places, even if it's just down the hall. When she leaves me behind I jump on the door to remind her she forgot me! On many days I’m lucky and she takes me to work with her where I get to show other dogs how a well behaved dog acts. I especially love agility but my old age is creeping up on me so I am slowing down.
Our work at HOV:  
I get to visit private homes, group homes and care facilities. It doesn't matter to me where we go, I just know I get to visit and be petted by everyone. I especially like the dementia patients—it makes me so happy when they can remember their dogs from years ago. Sometimes I just lie beside them and take a nap while they doze off as well—life is good!


Che and Dexter

Our breeds: Dexter is a Chinese Shar-Pei mix. Che is American Staffordshire Terrier, boxer, bulldog, retriever and a whole bunch of mutt!

Our human partner: Samantha Glauser
HOV volunteers since: 2012

Our interests, hobbies and talents: 
I’m a healer of broken hearts. I met my mom when she found herself missing having a dog the most. She took one look at me and fell in love. I love food. Mom calls me a “truffle” pig as I can sniff out the smallest bit of food. I love being pet and love my best buddy Che. He sometimes likes to hog my bed, but I let him get away with it. 
Che is what mom calls “desperately needy” as he loves people so much. He's also a breed ambassador and has helped people get over their fear of pitbulls. He loves hikes, car rides, treats, children and any loving that he can get.
Our work at HOV:  
We have visited private homes, group homes and skilled nursing facilities. I consider myself semi-retired and let “the kid” (aka Che) do most of the work now. Che loves snuggling in bed with his patients and lives to make people smile. I still enjoy going on occasional visits to see our friends.

Toodles and Me Too

Our Breed: Shih Tzu
Our Human Partner: Jennifer Black
HOV volunteers since: 2013
Our interests, hobbies and talents:
Toodles says: “I was once homeless and left stranded until my human mom found me and took me home.  My day is terrific when I walk around Chaparral Park checking out the geese and greeting other dogs with their humans. At home I spend time at the picture window watching the neighbors and their furry friends…even the rabbits. My favorite toy is a small tennis ball I love to roll from room to room. 
As for my buddy, Me Too, he loves to have tummy rubs, take long walks and ride in the bike cart. He even loves going to the groomer to keep up his good looks.
Our work at HOV:  
With our human mom, we take turns visiting patients at private homes, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, group homes, and memory care units. We thrive on the rewards of making others happy with our visits.