In the United Kingdom there are approximately 850,000 people who are currently living with the effects of dementia. By the year 2025 it is estimated that more than one million UK citizens will be robbed of their mental capabilities due to this dreaded disorder. To help curb the confusion and fear felt at times by patients with dementia, some hospitals have welcomed the calming presence of therapy animals like Little Dorrit, a tiny dog named after a Charles Dickens novel who brings unconditional love and compassion to those facing a difficult chapter in their lives.
Over the past four years Little Dorrit has become a familiar face to the dedicated caregivers at the ward of St. Thomas’ Hospital in central London, so when Prince Charles paid a visit to mark the British Geriatrics Society’s 70th anniversary year the six-year-old Miniature Pinscher was included in the lineup to meet His Royal Highness.
As a pet parent to two rescued Jack Russell Terriers, the prince couldn’t resist holding the cuddly canine as he heard of the positive impact that therapy dogs and cats have on the emotional wellbeing of the hospitals’ patients with dementia:
The hospital matron stated that “We have a patient currently on the ward who loves Little Dorrit. She used to be very restless, not able to breathe without oxygen. But with Dorrit around she was able to calm down and come off the oxygen for more than an hour” the Jersey Evening Post reported.
Little Dorrit and her human are a Pets as Therapy team. Established in 1983, Pets as Therapy is a national charity which provides therapy animal visits to nursing homes, hospitals, hospices and special needs homes through the United Kingdom in order to treat the most debilitating disease of all– loneliness. Along with helping those stricken with dementia, stroke and autism, through the Read2Dogs program PAT dogs offer a friendly ear for self-conscious children and kids who struggle to read as they read aloud.
For more information:
- visit http://petsastherapy.org
Photo Credit: Getty Images