Buttons is a Miniature Yorkshire Terrier who lives a normal life like any other dog…mostly. But when she puts on her Peata Pet Therapy coat and comes to visit Temple Street she becomes a super-dog!
Taxback.com have kindly been funding the Pet Therapy programme at Temple Street for the last three years. Once a fortnight, Buttons spends two hours visiting the children in hospital.
It’s a busy day, so she’s up bright and early to prepare. After a thorough brushing and grooming, she’s dressed in her Peata uniform and official Temple Street badge. Visits from Buttons, and her fellow pet therapy dog Buster – a miniature schnauzer – are organised by the Play Department in Temple Street.
Her handler Tom says that once she spots the front steps of the hospital she can barely wait to get inside the door. She’s warmly greeted by the staff and while she waits for Play Specialist Julie to arrive, Buttons is already busy making friends in the lobby.
Once on the wards, her day’s work really begins. Like anyone else who visits Temple Street, she knows that hygiene is essential, and Tom applies some paw sanitizer as soon as she’s through the door.
She can have anything from 25 to 45 patients to visit in a day, from the wards to ICU and everywhere in between. Buttons is a highlight in the week for so many little patients, who look forward to her company. From time to time, she’ll drop into the Outpatients’ Department or A&E, where she is always enthusiastically welcomed!
Tom says that it’s a combination of her training and temperament that make her an ideal therapy dog. Buttons is a hugely calming and comforting influence. She has endless patience for the children and laps up the attention. Dogs of all breeds can become a pet therapy dog, Tom says, once they have the right stuff.
She has a great sense of empathy and instantly recognises when a child is nervous or apprehensive. When this happens she knows to stop and sit down until they grow accustomed to her presence.
She visits a lot of patients in their beds and sometimes joins them when they’re nervous having a procedure like having blood taken. She has even accompanied patients on their way to theatre to help calm pre-surgery butterflies. She also gives a lot of time to parents, family members, and staff who benefit just as much from a Buttons cuddle!
When the day is over, Tom and Buttons head to the car. Often, they’ve barely pulled away when he hears doggie snores coming from the seat. It’s been a big day for a little dog!