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BellaOnline's Senior Living Editor

Man's Best Friend Brings Comfort Year 'Round

There are two schools of thought on writing holiday columns. The first thought is that you shouldn't pour out your best work at this time because readership is generally at a low period. The second one is that you should give this column everything you've got, because you are more likely to really touch one or two readers searching for something special.

So which path will this Senior Living column take? Many of us will experience some quiet time or a period of aloneness or emptiness during the holiday season. Perhaps you have been busy shopping or cooking; you've finished feeding a brood or eating to a point of overabundance. Now what? Maybe your house has been filled with visitors or you have been entertaining and now all of that is behind you. Or, like many at this season, this is your time of "simmering down" and you are on your own.

I would like to give you a special gift this season and invite you to spend some time with a very special friend. His name is Baxter.

Moments with Baxter:

This is just a book. It's a picture book. And it's a storybook. This little book is filled with photographs. Just faces. But each of the 36 faces tells a story; a story about lives facing death. And this is a book about a dog. Just a dog that happens to have the face of a Chamois-colored bear cub. And this dog happens to be 18 years old with a limp and a cough, high blood pressure and arthritis. This dog leaves a forever paw print on the heart of every hospice patient he touches.

Moments with Baxter is a sensitive journey, poignantly written by hospice volunteer, Melissa Johnson. Her words are accompanied by touching photographs shot by her husband, Dennis Bussey who exposes love at its very core, in some of life's darkest places; death's doorsteps. Baxter, the therapy dog visits hospice patients, their families and friends without words; with only affection. Unconditional love is transformational and exchanged freely.

Baxter volunteers full time at San Diego Hospice and Pomerado Hospital in San Diego. He is lovingly accompanied by Melissa and Dennis.

Spread out on the sofa with a box of tissue in one hand and spend a few moments with Baxter. Your life will be forever changed as well.

And Merry Christmas!

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