Doctor dog is seeing patients now

In stark contrast to the blind man who was asked to leave a hospital because his guide dog wasn’t allowed in, Fred the Irish wolfhound is welcome in Southampton General Hospital to help the elderly. Fred makes visits to the hospital every Wednesday, together with Karen, his owner, as a volunteer.

The 11st dog meets and greets the elderly patients, who have really taken to Fred’s shaggy charms.

Karen says about the dog’s visits:

He’s got such a nice nature and he really enjoys meeting all the people on the wards. I have to be a bit careful as he is so big and I always make sure there is no food near patients to distract him.

The elderly patients love Fred, and one patient, Clarice Richardson, who is 102 years old, says:

I think he’s lovely. We can’t go out at the moment so it is nice that he can come to see us.

You might think that having a dog in hospital is unhygienic, but the hospital is very careful about infection. The visits of Fred and Karen are postponed if either of them is ill, and Fred receives a bath before he visits any patients.

Kim Sutton is the voluntary services manager; she explains how the hospital can allow Fred to visit patients.

He’s had more vaccinations than most humans and our infection control team are perfectly happy to have him in the hospital.

A lot of people miss their animals when they come into hospital and it’s great to have something other than your own health to talk about.