People may be surprised to see a dog sitting by a patient’s bedside or laying on the floor in Day Therapy waiting for a treat – but at Dove House Hospice and Lindsey Lodge it has become a regular occurrence. Moss, a black labrador visits patients at Dove House and his ‘colleague’ Teddy, a labradoodle, visits patients over the river at Lindsey Lodge Hospice.
Research has shown that the act of stroking a dog can reduce both blood pressure and stress levels. Moss and Teddy are two of over 4,000 dogs working throughout the UK as part of the Pets As Therapy (PAT) scheme, visiting hospices, hospitals, care homes and special-needs units to give love and comfort to desperately ill people, many of whom are missing dearly loved pets or can no longer care for an animal back home.
Malcolm and Hilary Anderson have been bringing Moss to the Hospice as part of the PAT scheme for a few years and recognise the positive effect he can have in bringing comfort and companionship to patients throughout the wards. “Most of the patients and staff are really pleased to see Moss when we walk into the wards,” said Malcolm. Obviously there are people who don’t wish to see him and that’s fine. We always talk to the nurses prior to our visits and don’t approach any patients who are uncomfortable around animals. Both Hilary and I enjoy coming to the Hospice and Moss is really suited to it because he likes pleasing people and always gets spoiled by the patients.”
Over the river, Teddy the Labradoodle and his owner Sandra Rawlin volunteer their time to bring joy and comfort to patients at Lindsey Lodge Hospice once a week. Lindsey Lodge Hospice Volunteer Services Manager, Nerissa Gallagher, said: “Teddy is such a lovely happy dog. As soon as he enters the Hospice he gets lots of attention from patients, staff and volunteers alike. With his wagging tail and friendly manner he really does bring a smile wherever he goes!”
The pair were recently selected to represent Pets as Therapy at Crufts on its stand at the Birmingham NEC to talk about their work and encourage other dogs to sign up and support PAT’s important work.
Sandra said: “We had a fabulous time at Crufts. Teddy was so patient and well behaved and we talked to lots of people about joining Pets as Therapy. I am very proud of him!”
She added: “Any breed of dog – or cat - can join the PAT Team. They must have been with their owner for at least six months, be over nine months of age and be able to pass the temperament assessment. There is no minimum or maximum time commitment but we never work for more than two hours at any one time and always take regular breaks – both Teddy and I really enjoy visiting the patients at Lindsey Lodge Hospice.”
If you would like to find out more about the scheme visit https://petsastherapy.org