SAUK RAPIDS -  With the help of his yellow lab Tinkerbell, Steven Schirber brightens the days of patients living in nursing homes and other assisted living homes.

Through Heartland Hospice Schirber is a pet therapy volunteer. Schirber and Tinkerbell visit patients every week to cheer them up and take their minds off their worries.

Schirber has been a Heartland Hospice volunteer for nine years, he says he loves visiting patients with Tinkerbell and it give both staff and patients a break during the day to relax.

"The hardest part is getting to the patient's room because everyone wants to meet my dog, I usually get stopped at least 20 times going [to the room] because everyone wants to pet her and talk to her." -Schirber

Typically Schirber and Tinkerbell will visit each patient for about an hour, this gives the patient some time to relax, pet or play with Tinkerbell.

Schirber is a retired Burlington Northern Railway conductor and a former fire rescue volunteer for St. Joseph.

When Schirber isn't volunteering he likes to spend time with his three sons, downhill ski and enjoy the outdoors at his cabin in northern Minnesota.