‘Therapy’ dogs long overdue in France

A Connexion reader shares her experience of therapy dogs in the UK

Therapy dogs, already popular in the UK, are starting to gain popularity in France

How interesting to read your article in the May issue about Snoopy the English setter helping out in a Paris hospital.

After many years in France, latterly looking after my husband with Alzheimer’s disease, I returned to England 10 years ago with my dogs and volunteered as a ‘Dementia Friend’ at my local hospital in Yeovil, Somerset.

It wasn’t long before I was introduced to Tilly, a cocker spaniel that also regularly visited the wards.

She was encouraged to the side of a bed and, if the patient was happy, to jump up and lie quietly or sit by a chair to be stroked.

Tilly was a PAT dog (Pets as Therapy).

The charity, in existence since 1983, was looking for more volunteers so I signed up my golden retriever.

She had to be vetted but passed with flying colours and often joined me on afternoon visits, to the delight of patients, visitors and staff.

She was always kept on a lead and brought joy to everyone she encountered until she retired, aged 10.

I am now back living in France and have a two-year-old retriever.

I wondered if I could take him into a local retirement home once he has matured, and asked a nurse friend.

She had never heard of dogs being allowed in retirement homes, let alone hospitals.

Now it seems the French are perhaps ready to embrace this idea.

I look forward to the results of their research programme.

Connexion reader, Sue Finer by email

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