Beloved therapy dog retires after nine years at Nottingham Hospitals 'bringing joy' to patients

Ruby is retiring after nine years at Nottingham Hospitals Credit: Nottingham Hospitals Charity

A therapy dog who has been helping patients at Nottingham hospitals for nine years is retiring.

French Briard Ruby, who's 10, has had many roles at Nottingham Hospitals over the years - from the high dependency ward to antenatal appointments - but staff say it's time for her to put her paws up.

On her final walk through Queen’s Medical Centre, a former patient became emotional as she thanked Ruby and Dale for visiting her when she was in a high-dependency unit during the pandemic.

A young woman came up and thanked them for helping her during her antenatal appointments, and invited them up to the ward to meet her newborn.

Credit: Nottingham Hospitals Charity

Ruby's owner Dale Buckland said: "The dogs are particularly useful with male patients.

"They all tend to be on their tablets or phones and not really chatting.

"The dogs come in and they spark a conversation, so it stops the patients being socially isolated."

One patient's eyes filled up as he stroked Ruby, saying she reminded him how much he missed his own dog, Lucy. Dudley said: "A dog is a friend at night when you’re on your own."

Healthcare Assistant Georgia Wing said: “Ruby brings such joy to the ward – it makes our patients smile and that makes me happy – when they walked in, you saw Dudley’s face light up instantly.”

During the pandemic, Ruby worked at the COVID-19 vaccination hub at Forest Recreation Ground and helped calm youngsters who were scared of needles.

In the past few weeks Ruby and Bertie have visited a young patient who was missing her dog, and a young woman in intensive care who is paralysed.

Barbara Cathcart, Chief Executive of Nottingham Hospitals Charity, said: “We are so pleased to be able to fund the Pooches’ visits across Nottingham’s hospitals, and are grateful to Dale, Ruby and Bertie for all the joy they bring to patients, visitors and staff.

"Ruby has had a wonderful career, making a difference to people’s everyday lives and helping to ease patients’ anxiety during their time in hospital, and she brings joy to staff on her visits as well.

"We hope Ruby enjoys her well-deserved retirement, and enjoys putting her paws up! We’ll certainly miss seeing her wagging tail around the hospitals."

Dale said: "Ruby loves wandering around the hospitals, being adored. She’s a celebrity and she knows it! But she was 10 on 28 December, so it’s time to retire her. Bertie will be coming in on his own now while Ruby will be lying on the sofa, living the life of luxury like the diva she is!

"After we’ve done our rounds at the hospitals, we always stop and get a sausage from the chip shop. Ruby might not be on the wards any more but I reckon she will still get her sausage."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…