Sheffield woman and her dog take canine therapy to Westminster

Therapy is on its way to 'stressed-out' MPs - led by Sheffield woman Julie Day, her Westie Keegan, and a group of ‘helper’ dogs, along with their owners.

By Sally Burton
Tuesday, 21 May, 2019, 11:30
Julie Day with Keegan

Therapy Dogs Nationwide are a canine crew doing great work in hospitals, care homes, schools, and many other settings.

Dogs ranging from a tiny Chihuahua to a daunting Great Dane all do the same job of giving non-judgemental care, love and support to those who need it.

Now, much maligned MPs could receive some TLC as the work of Therapy Dogs Nationwide is highlighted, at an event hosted by Jo Johnson MP, a sponsor of the charity.

Julie is one of 657 volunteers who gives her services, and shares her dog, free of charge. With 1,500 dogs involved in the charity, there is pretty much an army.

Julie suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and took early retirement from Sheffield Children’s Hospital two years ago.

She said: “I found out about the charity at a stall at a dog show. Now I do ‘Paws and Read’ at four different schools and just visited the Children’s Hospital which was amazing.

“My visits with Keegan give me so much pleasure, Hearing the children shout ‘Keegan’s here’ puts a huge smile on my face. They are so eager to read to him.

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“I may walk in to school tired but I walk out on air. I make great friends, do something worthwhile and help my own wellbeing.”

The charity has no paid workers. Fundraising and donations, with the goodwill of volunteers, allow its much appreciated work to continue.

Chair of the charity is Eileen Slattery, who explained that the idea came from four friends who believed they could provide a great service, and went on to do so. That was less than four years ago…

She said: “We have dogs of every breed and variety. We aren’t interested in their looks, just their personalities – if they are friendly, calm and biddable.

“We visit all kinds of people and places and see amazing changes occur. Children and elderly people who never speak suddenly become vocal to ask a dog to bring them a ball.

“Dogs are great at relieving stress and inducing calm to a situation.”

Paulette Hockley is the charity’s placement officer, and organises visits the length and breadth of the country. To find out more visit the charity’s website or facebook page. New volunteers are always welcome.