He visits every week to bring smiles and cuddles to patients and families
“His job in life is to make people smile,” said owner Paul Jewels of his faithful therapy dog, Gozo. And by bringing him to meet patients and families at North Devon Hospice each week, Gozo is doing that job incredible well.
Dying Matters Week (14th – 20th May) offers a chance to highlight how specialist care towards the end of life is essential, and how this care is far more than just medicine. While many shy away from thinking about what our final days, weeks or months may be like, hospices help people live life to the full and support the emotional wellbeing of every individual, which is exactly why Gozo the dog makes his regular visits.
“After I had a stroke my grandchildren thought it would be a really good idea for me to have a puppy. They said it would be therapeutic.” said Paul.
It turned out that Gozo was so therapeutic for Paul, that he decided to investigate training him up as an official therapy dog. This happened in conjunction with the charity Pets as Therapy, and the pair now visit North Devon Hospice every week to spread some joy among patients and families on the Bedded Unit.
“We had an invitation to come to North Devon Hospice and that has been so exciting.” said Paul. “He loves coming here and when he first walks in you can see his excitement to see all the staff. The welcome he gets from everybody, including the nurses, is incredible. A therapy puppy is beneficial not just to the patients, but to the families too. It’s a distraction from the situation they are in. It helps them to smile, and to take their mind off things. To have Gozo either sitting in their lap or on their bed is wonderful. They find it very calming.”
Myra, a patient on the hospice’s Bedded Unit, is one of many to enjoy a visit from Gozo. “He’s just beautiful, and a very good boy. I’ve had large dogs all my life, but he’s just the right size to come in and sit on people’s laps. He’s as good as gold, and he brings a lot of joy.”
It’s not just patients and families who love Gozo though, he’s just as popular with the hospice nurses! “We absolutely love Gozo! He is such a sweetheart, and I’ve told Paul that I will puppy sit for him at the drop of a hat!” said Catherine Hobson, deputy team leader on the Bedded Unit. “It’s so important to give our patients experiences like this, because our job is to help create memories and special moments. That happens every time Gozo and Paul come to visit, and we are very grateful to them both.”