Therapy dog, Laika, becomes everyone’s best friend on Sheffield’s mental health wards

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A therapy dog is making a difference to Sheffield's mental health NHS services by offering users a 'helping paw' in their recovery.

Laika, a four-year-old labradoodle, is registered with Therapy Dogs Nationwide and owned by Debbie Baker, a Care Coordinator in the Community Enhancing Recovery Team at Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust (SHSC).

Debbie brings Laika to visit service users at SHSC on her days off and has service users saying they feel more relaxed after her visits.

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She said she decided to register Laika as a therapy dog after seeing the benefits of a therapy dog visiting mental health wards in her previous job.

Laika is a new therapy dog at Sheffield's NHS mental health services.Laika is a new therapy dog at Sheffield's NHS mental health services.
Laika is a new therapy dog at Sheffield's NHS mental health services.

She said: “It’s a pleasure to take Laika on visits to see people who use our services. I’ve seen service users grow in confidence and tell me they feel less stressed from interacting with Laika.

“Laika loves coming to the wards and remembers people from week to week... Laika is non-judgemental, she’s calm and enjoys interacting with all sorts of people.

“It’s really lovely to see staff and patients chatting together and showing each other the different tricks Laika can do.”

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Georgie Mellor, Deputy Ward Manager on Stanage Ward, a male only acute mental health inpatient ward in Nether Edge, said: “Laika is everybody’s best friend and staff and service users alike look forward to her visits.

Laika's staff ID badge.Laika's staff ID badge.
Laika's staff ID badge.

“She’s so full of love and care for everybody she meets. She really does put a shine on anybody’s day who’s lucky enough to meet her.”

Laika is sprayed with an antibacterial and antiviral treatment before visits.

To find out more about registering a therapy dog, visit

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