Meet Hattie – the adorable hospital dog who ‘treats’ patients
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
If you’re unwell in hospital, you might expect to call for the nurse or the doctor.
But one Suffolk hospital has made a more unusual addition to its treatment staff - in the form of six-year-old Rough Collie, Hattie.
Even though she does not have a stethoscope, Hattie's regular Thursday visits to West Suffolk Hospital are credited with hugely benefiting patients' health.
From the moment she enters the Bury St Edmunds hospital, people fuss over her - and it takes her an hour and a half to get round the stroke ward and the children's unit.
There people who might be having long stays in hospitals, missing the company of pets at home, enjoy her quiet and calming presence during a difficult time.
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Owner Jackie Eldridge, who accompanies Hattie on her popular tours, said the dog brings about perhaps the biggest health boost of all - namely that 'she just generally makes people feel better'.
The 70-year-old, who also takes Hattie on regular visits to Pinford End House Nursing Home in nearby Hawstead, said: 'By cheering people up, she puts them in a better frame of mind.
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'We try and encourage people to make friends with her.
'A lot of people say it's made their day to see her - that they were down and felt and that it's changed their day completely.
'It's something normal from the outside world that they're not seeing while they're in hospital.
'Some people have had dogs at home and they're so pleased to see a dog there. Sometimes there will be someone who sees Hattie and their face just lights up.'
Hattie, who provides her services as part of the charity Pets As Therapy, is usually quite a lively dog who 'would play all day with a ball if she could'.
However, Mrs Eldridge said: 'Hattie is very different at the hospital.
'She's very quiet at the hospital and she knows the routine. She sits with people while they make a fuss of her.
'We both enjoy going to the hospital. Hattie gets a lot of fuss and I have met a lot of lovely people there.
'She's a lovely dog and it's nice to share with other people.'