Pet therapy dog Brooke brings joy to patients and staff at Peterborough’s Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice

A new pet therapy dog is bringing joy to patients and staff at Peterborough’s Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice.

By Stephen Briggs
Sunday, 20th February 2022, 10:04 am
Nadine Jay with Brooke.
Nadine Jay with Brooke.

Brooke, a five-year-old bright-eyed grey Weimaraner, has started visiting the Peterborough hospice once a week with her owner Nadine Jay, to carry out important duties as a Pets As Therapy (PAT) Dog.

During her visits Brooke spends time with patients and their loved ones to provide comfort and companionship and help to relieve stress.

Brooke has joined friendly four-legged friends Millie, a Labrador who is the hospice’s official Ambassadog, and greyhounds Blossom and Georgie, who also help patients as PAT Dogs.

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Brook, the PAT dog

Brooke’s owner and PAT Volunteer Nadine, said: “I love volunteering at the hospice. I say to Brooke in the morning, ‘Right, we’re off to work.’ She has her bandanna, I put my T-shirt on and off we go!

“Brooke is incredibly loving and likes being with people. She is also intuitive and really nice and calm.

“I think everybody benefits from Pets As Therapy. I benefit because volunteering is something I really want to do and I find it rewarding, and the patients, family members and staff enjoy spending time with Brooke.”

Nadine, who in her day job works with children and families, was inspired to volunteer for Pets As Therapy when her dad was living in residential care a few years ago.

Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall hospice.

“My dad very sadly had dementia and I used to take Brooke to see him. I noticed the other residents who were there really loved meeting her. In the end, I used to take Brooke really for them!”

Nadine applied to join Pets As Therapy, a process which included a temperament assessment to check that Brooke was sociable, friendly, calm and gentle.

Once the pair had qualified, Nadine knew she wanted to volunteer at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, which cares for people living with life-limiting conditions and also supports their families.

“I’ve lived in Peterborough for nearly 30 years,” she said. “I just felt like Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice was where I wanted to go to volunteer. I find it has a lovely atmosphere. Some people have said to me that it must be depressing, but it absolutely isn’t.”

She added: “For patients who have pets, Brooke is a reminder of their beloved animals. Just to spend a little bit of time with a dog and to stroke one is priceless.

“Patients are there to receive care for their condition and I think Brooke can help to take their mind off things. On one occasion when we visited the hospice, we spent some time with a patient and his loved ones. I sat down with Brooke beside me and we chatted. They said for such a difficult time it was a relief to focus on something else – it was a positive moment. It was really lovely to get that feedback.”

Tina Parkinson, Volunteer Engagement Lead at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice, said: “We are delighted Brooke and Nadine are volunteering with us. Pet therapy is a fantastic way to reduce stress and bring happiness to the people that use our services. We are really grateful to them for generously giving up their time to provide comfort and companionship to many at our hospice.”

Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice is calling out for volunteers for a variety of roles, including a maintenance volunteer who can help with everyday practical tasks. The hospice is also searching for ward support volunteers for its specialist inpatient unit. To find out more, please contact Tina Parkinson, Volunteer Engagement Lead, on 01733 225927 or [email protected]

You can also find out more about volunteering at Sue Ryder at www.sueryder.org/volunteer