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Billie offers patients a paw-scription for happiness

Image shows patient Jason sat on a sofa next to therapy dog Billie.

Main image: Patient Jason with Billie the therapy dog.

Patients in a planned assessment unit are benefiting from a monthly paw-scription which leaves smiles on their faces.

Billie the therapy dog has become a regular fixture at the Hafod y Wennol unit for people with learning disabilities in Hensol, with the Labrador lapping up as much attention as she can get.

“Everyone looks forward to Billie’s visits, which are part of our holistic approach to patient care, because she’s so therapeutic. We can see the change, the uplift in mood when she’s here,” said clinical lead Paige Morris.

Image shows patients stood in a group with nurse Paige and therapy dog Billie and owner Kate sat down in front. Back row: Hafod y Wennol patients Steve, Louis and Jason with clinical lead Paige Morris. Front row: Kate Jenkins and Billie. Credit: SBUHB

Providing therapy is an alternative career path for Billie, four, who was destined to be a gun dog, retrieving game for gamekeepers.

“She didn’t make the grade as a gun dog so, via my sister, we rehomed her as our family pet,” said owner Kate Jenkins.

Having taken her in as a family pet at one year old, Kate realised Billie’s loving and patient temperament should be shared with others so they volunteered with Cariad Pet Therapy. Cariad Pet Therapy has therapy dogs all over Wales providing the same wellbeing support that Billie does.

“We saw how good she was with other people, and how she behaved with older family members and wanted to let more people have the opportunity to have time with her,” said Kate.

During her visits Billie likes to relax next to patients on the sofas, offering a very soft listening ear in return for a pat and a fuss.

Image shows Billie the dog Kate Jenkins and patient Steve spend time with Billie in the garden at Hafod y Wennol in Hensol. Credit: SBUHB

“We have a poster on the wall with the dates Billie is visiting and the patients are always going up to it to check when she’s coming in next,” said Paige.

“Even though Billie is not their dog they feel a sense of ownership and want to buy her treats when they go to the shops. They also plan to put together a box of toys for her.”

Kate added: “I love seeing the pleasure she brings the patients. They smile and are so happy when they see Billie.”





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