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Visit from four-legged friend brings delight to hospital children’s ward

L-R: Hospital Play Specialist Lorraine Foster, owner John Battersby and Otis, Hospital Play Specialist Ania Barska

A specially trained therapy dog has delighted the service users, staff and visitors on the Furness General Hospital Children’s Ward after paying them a visit.

Otis, the 9 year old Labradoodle, is a Pets as Therapy (PAT) dog and, along with owner John Battersby from Ulverston, visited the hospital to spend time with some of the children and their families.

John said: “Otis has been a PAT dog for over 2 years now, and he absolutely loves it. He’s in his element when he’s around people, and just loves all the attention and getting stroked by the people we visit.

“We got into it after my wife saw a Facebook post about a therapy dog, and we thought Otis would be perfect for it. We got him registered, and were able to start visiting St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston – which we still go to every week.

“Since then, we have also been to local schools, Children and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS), and now the hospital.”

Otis with children

PAT dogs are often used to provide comfort to those struggling with a wide range of mental and physical illnesses and disabilities in residential care homes, community health services and schools. They can help to ease stress and anxiety, offer friendship, stimulate memory, lower blood pressure and also promote focussed interactions with others.

Lorraine Foster, Hospital Play Specialist for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT), said: “We are so grateful for John and Otis coming to visit us. It really does help the children and the staff; it boosts morale for us all.

“Seeing Otis come onto the ward just lifts everyone and puts a smile on everybody’s face. It’s wonderful that we have the opportunity to provide this kind of therapy for the children and their families, and we hope to keep seeing John and Otis on a regular basis in the very near future.”

More information about Pets as Therapy is available at https://petsastherapy.org/

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