Therapy dogs have been bringing smiles to patients, past and present, at Nightingale House Hospice for over two decades.

Being with animals can help reduce stress and bring back fond memories, so patients at hospices and hospitals around the country warmly welcome the canine companions.

Jim King, a patient attending the Nightingale Wellbeing Centre, said: “Oh, it really is a nice experience because the therapy dogs are very gentle with us. They are so fluffy, approach you slowly, and are always friendly. I went to give Echo a treat, and she put her paw up, so we even got to see her do some tricks.”

Lynn Lewis, another patient, said: “The therapy dogs are such a pleasure to be with. They are calming and relaxing, allowing patients to talk about their pets and other topics… Everyone smiles when they enter the room.”

A number of therapy dogs, both large and small, and their volunteer owners have visited patients at the local hospice over the years.


Kate Bird, who volunteered for ten years with her Therapy dog Ruby and her younger chocolate Labrador, Doug, said: “It was wonderful to see how much pleasure and comfort Ruby gave to staff, visitors, and patients on our fortnightly visits to the Wellbeing Centre and the In-Patient Unit for many years.

She added: “She would enter the reception area and wave her tail enthusiastically to announce her arrival. Everyone she encountered grinned when they saw her. It was such a positive, humbling, and rewarding experience to volunteer as a PAT team at the hospice, and I feel honoured to do it with such great dogs as Ruby and Doug.”

Not only does Nightingale House Hospice welcome therapy dogs, but the In-Patient Unit frequently sees pets coming in to spend time with their owners, making it feel like a home away from home for patients.