Goodbye Tallulah: A Therapy Dog's Special Send Off

BY: Lori E. Switaj
CATEGORY: Volunteers; News and Community

Pictured above, Tallulah with "mom," nurse Madonna Fasimpaur.

"Her only angst was that she was going to be left again." Those are the words of licensed practical nurse Madonna Fasimpaur about Tallulah, aka "Lula," her hospice pet therapy dog who served faithfully at the David Simpson Hospice House since 2008. On Sept. 1, 2016, Tallulah made her last visit to the House as a friend, colleague, volunteer and therapy dog.

Surrounded by friends, her "mom" and best friend Linus– a fellow therapy dog– one of Hospice of the Western Reserves most faithful volunteers was given a final blessing.

The next day, after 15 years on earth including almost eight with Hospice of the Western Reserve, Tallulah bid farewell for good.

Finding her place
In 2008, Tallulah, a purebred golden retriever, had been tied to a shelter in the middle of the night. She stayed at the shelter until being adopted by another hospice nurse through GRIN a golden retriever rescue program. That nurse was forced to give her up when she found she was allergic to the dog. When a call was put out for a new owner, Fasimpaur quickly adopted the dog, who became one of several pet therapy dogs at the House.

"She's the dog I wanted for 40 years," Fasimpaur said, noting that as a bonus that she could bring the dog to work with her. She quickly noted Tallulah's temperament and special ability made her a perfect fit for hospice work.

Perhaps it was the fear of being left alone again, but Tallulah proved not only to be an exceptionally gentle, loving dog, but she had an uncanny ability to know when patients could use some company.

"She seemed to know if a patient didn't have someone with her, if they had family out of town," Fasimpaur said. "She would wait outside the room, vigilant. She had an inner knowing they were alone and no one was coming. That dog just knew."

At the House, she enjoyed the attention heaped upon her by patients, families and staff.

"I often referred to her as the diva dog," Fasimpaur said. "She wanted the attention of the people, the patients, the doctors, employees. She was a people dog. And she loved the special work we did. Pet therapy is so useful. It's so healthy. So good for the patients and families."


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