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Therapy dog Harry brings joy to local dementia patients

23 March 2017

Introducing the newest member of James Paget University Hospitals’ Dementia Team, a whippet called Harry, a Pets as Therapy (PAT) dog owned by Sally Darley from Lowestoft.

Research has long suggested that pets are good for us, offering health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and heart rate, reducing the stress hormone cortisol, and boosting levels of the feel-good hormone, serotonin.

In acute and critical care settings the use of animal assisted therapy and visitation can help to motivate and improve health as a non-invasive treatment.

While companionship is an obvious benefit, a well-timed pet visit may also help with agitation, depression, and anxiety. It’s not uncommon to watch someone transform from emotionless to animated and joyful when a pet enters the room.

Sally said “I realised Harry’s potential as a PAT dog when I used to regularly take him to visit my friend’s father when he was unwell. He’s very placid and calm with vulnerable people, which makes him a perfect dementia friendly dog. It’s fantastic to see their faces light up when they see and pet him.”

Pets as Therapy is a national charity founded in 1983 and are unique in that they provide therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, residential and nursing homes.