Patients at Trinity Hospice and Brian House children’s hospice are benefiting from an unusual kind of therapy to help them cope with their conditions.
The hospices have two Pets As Therapy (PAT) dogs – a golden retriever and bichon frise – who bring some added cheer to the patients’ lives.
The dogs have to have the right temperament to pass the PAT test, meaning they should not to jump up, lick faces or get too boisterous.
Golden retriever Oliver has the perfect manners.
Owner Carol Raines said: “It’s lovely to see the patients react to him, he’s so therapeutic and has such a nice temperament – he’s perfect for it.
“He goes straight up to the patients, it’s as if he knows what to do and it’s nice for the patients and their relatives to be able to talk to him.”
Carol, who lives in Lytham has been bringing Oliver to Trinity for several months.
She said: “I just thought about what it would be like if I didn’t have my animals around me. I wouldn’t know what to do.
“They are so therapeutic and calming, it’s hard to put into words. When you touch animals it’s calming, it’s so many things that we as humans cannot give to these patients.”
Some Trinity patients have to give up their pets when they become too ill to look after them, so to see a PAT animal in the building brings back memories for them.
For Phyllis Gornall, 87, seeing Oliver gives her something else to think about while she is at Trinity’s Day Therapy Unit.
“You forget your worries, troubles, illness and everything else that goes on,” she said. “It’s nice to have the company of the dogs, and it’s nice to see the lovely animals. I think it relieves you of the tension and makes you feel more free.”
Phyliss, who lives on Sunnyside Avenue, Warton, suffers with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease as well as a separate internal condition. She has been poorly for three years and has been attending the Day Therapy Unit for 12 weeks.
She said: “You feel better about yourself coming here because you realise there are other people here to talk to going through a similar experience.
“I didn’t want to come here at first, I took an awful lot of persuading but I’m glad I did. It’s done me a world of good.”
The Gazette has launched the Hospice Heroes campaign to raise £200,000 to help bring the hospices up to modern standards – and we are looking for our army of readers to do something heroic.
It could be a sponsored walk, run, cake bake, non-uniform day at school or work, or anything which can help us reach our target.
Go to blackpoolgazette.co.uk/hospice-heroes to download a sponsorship form.