Man's best friend brings fun to children's ward

Pets at Therapy dog with patientIt was puppy love at first sight for young inpatients when therapy dogs came to visit the playroom. 

The therapeutic benefits of spending time with pets are well-publicised, but it is not easy to bring animals into a hospital environment with vulnerable patients. 

However, thanks to the hard work of paediatrics matron Claire Buckle and her team, children and their families can now regularly spend time with Finn the golden retriever and Brinkley the cockapoo. 

Claire explained: "I sought expert advice on the best breeds of dogs for children - characteristics, character, how soft their fur is for stroking - then we shortlisted and interviewed them in a local park."

Finn was the first dog to visit, with his owner Helen Webb. During his inaugural visit to Rose ward, Finn met 10-month-old Reyan, 18-month-old Freya, five-year-old Darcy and seven-year-old Isabella. 

Isabella's mum Louise Eaton explained that Isabella has a number of health complication including being blind, so sensory input, such as the tactile experience of petting a friendly dog, is very important for her. 

She added: "Isabella's condition can be very isolating, so to have the opportunity to do this when she comes into Royal Brompton is really special."

Pets as therapy was founded in 1983. Its volunteers take their own beloved pets to visits environments ranging from hospices and care homes, to schools and prisons, providing companionship and comfort to people who may not otherwise be able to spend time with animals. 

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