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Therapy dogs struggling not seeing patients

April 23, 2020

Caring Canine Sizzle, a standard poodle, has been visiting Poole Hospital’s Portland Ward, which is for patients with acquired head injuries, for over four years.

Since the lockdown, Sizzle and her owner Sue Dennett have not been able to go to the hospital and have been missing her patients and the brilliant NHS staff.

Sue, co-founder of Caring Canines, said: “Her visits will include formal sessions with therapists, including speech and language and mobility but some of the biggest breakthrough have come from patients in a state of coma.

“I have watched people who could not or would not respond to the staff but did when helped to touch Sizzle’s coat.

“A smile or an attempt to interact with her is heart-warming and plenty of photos have been taken of her with patients to use as a conversation opener with visitors or as a memory jogger.”

Sue hopes that as soon as the restrictions are loosened, she and Sizzle will be able to go back to the hospital and continue helping with the rehabilitation and recovery of patients who have suffered head injuries.

In the meantime, Sue will continue to send photos and updates of Sizzle and her other dogs to those at the hospital and other venues Caring canines attends and supports.

Sue added: “Sizzle always knows when it’s Thursday and will pace up and down – almost clock watching and when we arrive, she bustles through the hospital, pausing to greet people but clearly keen to get to work.

“I don’t think our visits would be appropriate at the moment. She would do her usual splendid job of raising spirits but sadly she needs me in tow, and I can’t risk taking anything into vulnerable people.

“I think the staff are too stretched to respond to us at the moment, but we are continuing to send photos to as many of our venues as we can.

“Sizzle thinks that she has retired. However, once her working bandana comes out, she will be ready to get back on duty.”

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