SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — Losing a loved one is extremely difficult, but a little four-legged TLC is helping to heal hearts in a time of grief.
News 8's Nichelle Medina introduces us to a lovable lab offering unthinkable compassion at a Carlsbad hospice.
Life is a journey, filled with adventure and each of us on a path of self-fulfillment.
Every day a new beginning with the hope of a better tomorrow.
There are celebrations and milestones of happiness.
In the joy, life also brings sorrow, but in a room at Pacfica House stands a symbol of unspeakable compassion.
3-year-old Stevie, the black lab, is a facility dog at Pacifica.
Stevie and her handler Danielle Nowicki are a certified facility dog team; the first at a hospice residence in San Diego County.
"She comes right up to the bedside, she makes eye contact, she'll put her chin right into their hand," said Danielle. "She'll lay down next to their bedside, so they can just love on her and pet her.
"It just gives them a distraction and a sense of calm that is just invaluable."
Seeing her in action, Stevie lights up the room.
A little TLC and a GoPro for this story, turned into a magical moment for one patient as he recorded his interactions with Stevie.
"A light comes through in their eyes," said Danielle. "It's amazing to witness what a pet can do."
That gift of comfort extends beyond the walls of the hospice to families
Carrie Greenstein recently lost her mother-in-law, Estelle.
"It was very disturbing, I would say, emotionally," said Carrie.
In the pain, Stevie brought solace.
"She brought me a smile to my face and she brought a sense of 'everything is gonna be OK,'" Carrie said.
The human-canine connection journey for Stevie began as a pup and she is blossoming at Pacifica.
Her path actually started at Donovan Correction Facility learning lessons of compassion from inmate trainers.
On any given day, Stevie spreads hope, healing and love.
A wagging and loving figure, whose mission can be seen in her eyes