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Ann Burrell, Saint Michael’s volunteer and fundraiser, visits the hospice each week with her therapy dogs to spread a smile to patients and their families
“People’s faces light up when they see the dogs coming in to visit – it truly is such a special thing to be part of.
“I’ve been volunteering with Saint Michael’s for more than 15 years, when I got my first Leonberger – I’ve now got six of them and a Labrador, which keeps me busy!
“Patients and families love them – dogs offer unconditional love, without question or judgement, so people say things to a dog they might not say to a human.
“All the dogs come in as puppies to have a cuddle and get to know the patients – and then the patients actually name them, which is really special.
“The hospice is such an amazing place, I love visiting – three times a week I bring one of the dogs to day therapy, and I will often be asked by the nurses to take the dog upstairs to see someone staying on the inpatient unit.
“When someone puts their arms around the dog and relaxes – sometimes when they are very unwell and in their final days – it’s a moment you never forget.
“While I’ve seen the hospice grow over these 15 years, the atmosphere of care and love is just the same as when I first arrived. I feel incredibly privileged to be part of it.
“I give my time, but I think the dogs are the real stars – I’m just the person at the end of the lead!”
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