Patients with life-limiting illnesses, families seeking support, and staff who provide exceptional nursing care – everyone at the Ayrshire Hospice benefits from regular visits by Carol Shearing and her two-year-old Australian Labradoodle, Loki.
“He’s incredibly calm at the hospice,” Carol, a retired head teacher who lives in Ayr, says.
“Loki serves to bring a smile, or even a welcome distraction, in difficult circumstances. Everyone enjoys his company.”
Carol admits that while Loki takes a lot of grooming, she specifically chose the breed when she started thinking about becoming a PAT volunteer.
“When I was a head teacher, I invited a PAT dog to the school as part of the Read2Dogs programme. It was so successful that I decided I wanted my own PAT dog when I retired.
“I decided to get an Australian Labradoodle as this breed doesn’t shed hair, which means Loki has a high compatibility rate with allergy and asthma sufferers.”
Carol and Loki also visit Mathieson House, an assisted-living facility, and Alloway Primary School. “Loki is great with children. He lies on a beanbag and listens to them reading, though he often shows off a bit more of his cheeky side.”
The name “Loki” comes from a character in Norse mythology who is often portrayed as a cunning trickster. According to Carol, this definitely applies to her dog.
“His name certainly suits his personality. Labradoodles are particularly intuitive, very intelligent and easily trained. Oh, and incredibly comical!”
Catch up with the rest of the Pets As Therapy series.