Therapy dog brings comfort to Chester hospice as more pet owners asked to volunteer

Video report by ITV Granada Reports journalist Jahmal Williams-Thomas

A special dog is working hard to help people with mental health problems they may be facing.Ned, the three-year-old Australian labradoodle, has been approved by Therapy Dogs Nationwide and goes around visiting patients, prisoners and pupils. 

He has been described as a "teddybear", who has been regularly visiting a hospice in Chester to help stimulate and distract inpatients.

Dave Artell, an inpatient at Hospice of the Good Shepherd is "a big animal lover".

Therapy Dogs Nationwide started in 2016. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

He said: "You can see he's just a comfort. It's like having a real teddybear with you. I've always had dogs myself, I'm a big animal lover.

"We are allowed dogs in here, my dog has been to visit me but she can't do what this beauty does.

Mark Wilson, who was diagnosed with blood cancer three years ago, said: "Ned's amazing. He's just that constant, and he always give you a lovely wag of his tail and a cuddle.

"He's just so nice to have, and he gives so much back to you as well."

Debbie Evans, Inpatient Unit Manager believes although hospices are important for end of life care, quality of life is also vital.

She said: "Quality of life is what we focus on, people can come in for end of life care but that's not everyone that comes into the hospice.

"We want people to live well with their disease and then people who do need further support from their disease, we're here to provide that.

Therapy Dogs Nationwide say that the benefits of Animal Assisted Therapies have been studied, results show that the sessions improve wellbeing, general health and increased confidence levels.

The use of animals for therapy has been used for more than 40 years.

Dave Artell, an inpatient at Hospice of the Good Shepherd spending time with Ned. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Brenda Maddocks, Ned's owner also takes Ned to visit many care homes in Chester.

She said: "Therapy dogs nationwide is a registered charity and the volunteers with their registered and assessed dogs visit all different type of establishments: hospices, hospitals, colleges, universities, prisons, mental health clinics and schools."

For more details on how to volunteer your animal visit Therapy Dogs Nationwide.

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