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Baxter the Therapy Dog, a San-Diego-area Chow/Lab mix who spent years providing care and comfort to humans at the end of life, died last Friday at the age of 19.

After a puppyhood of abuse, Baxter grew up to become a certified therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International, and enjoyed fame and fans worldwide for his years of volunteer work at San Diego Hospice, where he spent time cuddling, licking faces, and providing smiles for people in hospice care. He even became the subject of an award-winning book: “Moments with Baxter: Comfort and Love From the World’s Best Therapy Dog.”

Many of those who knew Baxter believe that it was his own ailments that made him such a powerful companion to hospice patients. The arthritis that plagued him during the latter half of his life left him unable to walk. His owner, Melissa Joseph, helped him carry out his duties at the hospice by pulling him around in a cart and carrying him to patients’ beds.