A charity dedicated to helping people with neurological conditions and brain injuries has launched a nationwide search for the paw-fect canine companions.
Sue Ryder has partnered with Pets as Therapy to find four-legged friends to carry out important duties at the charity’s neurological care centres, hospices, and palliative care hubs across the UK.
One of those centres is the Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre Dee View Court in Aberdeen.
Eleven dogs will be awarded the title of “ambassadog” and will work with the charity to offer support to those who need it the most.
The charity believes the companionship a dog can provide can helps relieve stress and bring joy.
Selecting the next therapy pooch for each of the care centres and hospices will be down to a panel of dog-loving celebrity judges, including Scottish presenter Kaye Adams, actress Carley Stenson, TV presenter Richard Arnold and author Emily Dean, as well as expert judge Matthew Robinson, from Pets As Therapy, and Sue Ryder’s chief executive Heidi Travi.
The dogs and their owners will be expected to volunteer a minimum of two hours a month to visit their nearest Sue Ryder neurological care centre, hospice or palliative care hub.
The pets are asked to offer up puppy love and cuddles with the hope of brightening the days of patients, residents and staff.
Each dog will be assessed to make sure they fit the Pets As Therapy temperament assessment and are sociable, friendly, calm and gentle enough to work with patients.
Valerie Maxwell, centre director at Dee View Court, said: “Pet therapy really is a fantastic way to reduce stress and bring happiness to our patients.
“It has been a really tough year for everybody. Throughout the pandemic, the few therapy dogs that we are working with have been unable to visit and our patients have really missed them, as have the Sue Ryder carers and staff.
“Now that we are able to start planning for the return of visitors, we wanted to put out a nationwide call to all dog owners to nominate their furry friends in a bid to become one of Sue Ryder’s very first paw-some ambassadogs.”
Kaye Adams, TV personality and presenter, said: “I am delighted to be part of Sue Ryder’s wonderful campaign to help find new therapy dogs for their hospices and neurological centres across the UK.
“Sue Ryder hope their ‘ambassadogs’ will bring a great deal of joy and comfort to patients going through some of the most difficult times of their lives, and so it’s really important that we find the best dogs for the job.
“I absolutely love dogs and know how much of a support they can be during tough times – my own little Cockapoo Bea makes me smile every day – and so I feel honoured to be judging the competition.”
Emily Dead, who wrote Everyone Died So I Got A Dog, said: “My Shih Tzu Raymond has changed my life in ways I never thought possible.
“He knows instinctively when I need comfort and support and manages to lift my spirits when I need it most.
“That’s why I’m supporting Sue Ryder’s campaign to appoint a canine ambassador for each of the Sue Ryder hospices and neurological care centres across the UK.
“The charity has seen first-hand how visits from pet therapy dogs brighten people’s day.
“If you think your dog has what it takes to become an ‘Ambassadog’, please visit the Sue Ryder website to apply.
“I cannot wait to see everyone’s pictures – may the best dogs win.”
Present and journalist Richard Arnold, said the work done by the charity is “so important” and emphasised the importance of pets for one’s wellbeing.
He added: “My dog, Clemmie, has certainly helped me through this past year. If you think your dog is heads and tails above the rest, please visit the Sue Ryder website.”
To enter, view the job description by visiting www.sueryder.org/Ambassadog by May 21.