Hospice youngsters benefit from puppy love

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Youngsters at Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People have an unusual new staff member… and it was love at first sight – puppy love!

Toni the Golden Retriever has just been introduced to the hospice for youngsters with life-limiting conditions and is already putting smiles on faces.

Bringing Toni onto the Rainbows team was the idea of Lynne DeMelo, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Palliative Care, who has a wealth of experience at Rainbows gained over 17 years.

Toni is a 12-month-old breeding pooch and comes from Guide Dogs for the Blind. She has an additional future role of producing puppies to become guide dogs.

Lynne explained: “The calming effect of animals in a care setting is well-documented and can be very therapeutic.

She added: “We have a beautifully trained dog with a wonderful temperament, who lights up faces. Sometimes the sense of normality for families of seeing and interacting with a dog can be significant.”

The move is already brightening the lives of children and young people at the Loughborough-based hospice charity.

Four-year-old Harpal Dhaliwal (right), is pictured with mother Kamaljit (centre) and sister Sophinder (nine, left) with Rainbows Care Team members Jackie Markgraf and Golden Retriever Toni.