Last week our Day Hospice patients were treated to a visit from some very special guests as Jayne Phipps brought her four Siberian Huskies to the hospice to say hello.

Patients and staff hugged, stroked and generally made a lot of fuss of the dogs, and the furry foursome was on their best behaviour throughout their visit. (Although, we did have to hide the bowl of Quality Street after one cheeky husky took a liking to the purple one!)

Think of dogs and you’ll probably think of the love and reassurance they provide to their owners. As such loving creatures, it might not come as a surprise that they’ve been used to help humans through difficult times since the time of the Ancient Greeks. In the 1700s, Quakers brought dogs to hospitals to help the mentally ill; the process of raising and tending to pets helped patients rebuild their social skills. Since then, dogs have been used as therapy for soldiers in World Wars, and today they help victims of natural disasters come to terms with loss and devastation.

One patient in the day hospice said; “The Huskies are such beautiful animals, and so friendly too. Having them around made me feel instantly more relaxed and peaceful. You can talk to them, and they don’t judge you or ask you questions, they just listen intently and play with you affectionately. They’re a bit like counsellors with fur!”

It’s that friendly nature which makes dogs the perfect companion for someone facing illness or distress. In fact, scientists have discovered that dogs don’t display any kind of xenophobia, quite the opposite – they love strangers and want to get to know them.

Stroking, hugging, or even just talking to an animal leads to a reduction in the levels of stress hormones, and a lowering of blood pressure. It also helps to regulate breathing and releases a chemical associated with feelings of bonding and affection. The even better news is that all of these changes occur in the dog as well as the human, so it’s good for all involved!

You can find out more about Jayne’s Huskies on her website -