Staff Extranet >
A loveable dog who took centre stage at the most prestigious dog show in the world is putting smiles on the faces of patients with life limiting illnesses at Shaftesbury’s Westminster Memorial Hospital.
Daisy, a seven-year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, works as a patient therapy dog at the hospital which is run by Dorset HealthCare.
She was nominated by hospital staff in a national competition for the incredible impact she has on patients who stroke and hold her during weekly visits.
She was named as one of the six finalists in the PAT Dog of the Year category in the latest instalment of Crufts.
Crufts is held annually in the UK and recognises dogs that evidence the very best in agility, obedience and physicality.
Daisy eventually finished runner-up, but it was an experience that owner Barbara Borwell will never forget.
She said: “I would be lying if I thought Daisy and I would end up as finalists at Crufts. It is fantastic recognition for the great work she does, the positivity she spreads among patients and the amazing interactions between them.
“It is scientifically proven that something as simple as stroking a dog can reduce blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, lift spirits and provide comfort.”
Jean Lever attends the Weldmar Wellbeing Day Centre at Shaftesbury Hospital, and has experienced the positive effects Daisy has had first hand.
“It is great to see patients who often feel confused and isolated smile and recollect memories of when they had a dog, she said.
“By simply stroking or cuddling Daisy, it relaxes them and puts them at ease, often reducing anxiety and increasing confidence.”
Owner Barbara, from Shaftesbury, who is also a retired nurse, decided to train Daisy as a Pet as Therapy (PAT) dog after noticing the positive effects she had on an elderly resident at the same nursing home as her mother.
“There was a gentleman who had suffered a stroke and he hardly spoke to anyone in six weeks. He noticed Daisy and gestured to take her lead.
“Within minutes of stroking her and having her on his lap, he recalled memories of a dog his daughter once owned, much to the astonishment of staff. I knew then that Daisy had a gift and that we could help others.”
Barbara has been a PAT volunteer since Daisy was aged just 18 months old, and also takes her to local schools to help children who may lack confidence in reading or struggle to communicate.