Bertie the dog (pictured above) belongs to Rosemary Williams, one of the SVP members in Great Yarmouth and is a registered Pets As Therapy dog or PAT dog for short.
Every week he visits the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston where Rosemary is a volunteer.
Rosemary said: “Bertie is a big hit with the patients especially the children and the very elderly and dementia patients who love to interact with him. He is so good with them, calm and immensely patient and placid.
“Family members and visitors are often delighted by this and on occasions are moved to tears to see some recognition or reaction to Bertie especially during his visits to the stroke unit.”
Bertie, who is a cross-breed Cavapoo, and Rosemary have been asked to visit ‘end of life’ patients where his calm presence has brought comfort to the person and sparked conversations with family members and friends about shared memories.
“To be allowed such an amazing privilege is a blessing, said Rosemary. “He is also popular with staff who love a few snatched moments of Bertie time during their busy shifts, in fact one of the consultants asked me if I could bring Bertie in more than once a week.”
Bertie always accompanies Rosemary to the hospital chapel at the end of each visit to pray for all the people they have seen that morning.
Bertie also visits a local school once a week as part of a Pets As Therapy scheme called Read2Dogs where he helps out with children who are nervous or may have learning difficulties.
He and Rosemary accompanied another St Mary’s SVP member on a ‘one off visit’ to a local care home to visit a parishioner who loves dogs and she was delighted to cuddle Bertie and share him with the other residents.
“Bertie attends our SVP meetings with me,” said Rosemary, “and once he has had a treat off one other dog owner in the conference he sits there as good as gold until the last prayer is spoken.”
Find out more at: petsastherapy.org