Hospice therapy dog receives Long Service Award for volunteering

Categories: Care and People & Places.

St Oswald’s therapy dog has become the first pet volunteer to receive a Long Service Award at the hospice.

The Long Service Awards were held during Volunteers’ Week in the Gosforth, Newcastle hospice, and celebrated the achievements of the staff and volunteers who have been at the hospice for between five and thirty years.

Maida, a nine year old Russian Wolfhound, and her owner Julia Marvin, have been visiting St Oswald’s patients and their families every week since 2012.  Maida is very well known at the hospice, and patients of all ages forward to her visits.

Julia explained:

“Before we joined the hospice as volunteers, I had been a supporter for many years, so when I saw that they needed more therapy dogs I got in touch.  We were both made very welcome from the start.  Both of us enjoy coming to the hospice, where we meet lots of friendly and interesting people.  I think that the patients, children and also their families, appreciate the calmness that Maida brings, and also find that a change of focus is sometimes very welcome.”

“My role has been clear from the very beginning.  After our first visit over five years ago, many people remembered Maida’s name, but it took considerably longer for most people to remember me.  That is just how it should be, because Maida really is the star, and I am simply her taxi driver and lead-holder.  During the past year, Maida’s nephew Harley and niece Dotty have also started visiting the hospice with me, and Maida is starting to think of retirement as she will be ten years old in September.”

“From time to time, when we are out and about, people approach us and tell us how much their relatives enjoyed the visits from Maida when they were at St Oswald’s – of course, it is Maida that they recognise, not the taxi driver!  This always brings home to me just how much our visits are appreciated.”

Christine Ward, Volunteer Development Manager said:

“The patients at St Oswald’s have really adopted Maida, after over five years with us she is part of the ‘family’.  Maida is our first therapy pet to receive a long service award and we were thrilled to be able to present her and Julia with it.”

Julia ended:

“If you have a calm, friendly pet and have an hour or more a week to spare, then I would really recommend having your pet assessed to be a therapy pet with one of the national charities who are always looking for new volunteers and would welcome you.  The charities have volunteers who visit many types of places, including hospitals, hospices, care homes and schools.  Maida and I are with the charity Therapy Dogs Nationwide. The patients get a lot of benefit from cuddling and petting Maida, and it i great for the animals too.  It is lovely to see Maida with the patients, and knowing that she is making a difference to their day.”

For more information visit St Oswalds Hospice