GRASS VALLEY, Calif. December 3, 2019 – Those of us who have pets know the pain that comes when they die. It can be as devastating as losing a family member – after all, pets really are members of our family.

Hospice of the Foothills provides weekly and monthly support groups for people when they lose a loved one to help them through the grieving process. On December 17th there is a new group starting to help people through the grief of losing a cherished pet.

The Pet Loss Support Group is a project of Lake Wildwood resident Dick DeLisser, in loving memory of his dog Maggie who passed away just a few months ago. When asked why he wanted to start this group, Dick said “Maggie was my friend. She was my sole companion after my wife of 50 years passed away. She saved me.”

He first became involved with Hospice of the Foothills in December 2013 when his wife, Julia, began receiving hospice care. Shortly after Julia’s death, Dick began attending weekly Bereavement Support Group meetings, with Maggie always at his side. His profound gratitude for the quality of care Julia received and the support he felt through her illness inspired his desire to give back to Hospice of the Foothills.

Realizing Maggie had become such a vital part of the healing process, both Dick and his dog Maggie became Hospice of the Foothills volunteers. Maggie earned her certification as a pet visitor dog so she could accompany Dick for patient visits. As a Veteran, Dick is also trained to provide program visits in the Vet to Vet program, providing support to those who served in the Armed Forces.

Dick has been a valued volunteer for Hospice of the Foothills since 2015. In 2017 he and Maggie were presented with the California Hospice and Palliative Care Association’s coveted “Gift of the Heart” Award. This is an award that is presented each year to a hospice volunteer serving in California, who has shown a history of dedicated service to one of the statewide hospice providers and the patients they serve.

Today, Dick DeLisser facilitates a monthly bereavement support group for Hospice of the Foothills at Eskaton Grass Valley. As for why he is starting the Pet Loss Support Group, “I felt there was a real need for a supportive place where people can come and share their pain of losing a dear pet”, says DeLisser. “It’s where my heart is – with people who are grieving.”

The Pet Loss Support Group will begin Tuesday, December 17th and will meet at Hospice of the Foothills, 11270 Rough & Ready Hwy in Grass Valley from 2:00 – 3:00 pm. This group will meet every 3rd Tuesday of the month and there is no charge to attend. For more information call 530-272-5739 or visit