Therapy dogs at Southampton Children's Hospital share health information and encourage children's colouring campaign

THERAPY dogs are helping spread important health information and engaging children in a colouring campaign instead of visiting wards.

Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 9:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 9:23 am

Innovative alternatives to ward visits for young patients have been introduced by Lyndsey Uglow, lead therapy dog handler at Southampton Children’s Hospital.

While golden retrievers Leo, Milo, Quinn, Archie, Jessie, Hattie and Pollyanna can’t be at the bedside, their ‘pawtraits’ are part of a social media campaign and Dogtor Leo has appeared in a fun video.

‘Canine medical officer’ Leo has shared some tips about staying safe in the current situation, including playing in the garden and exercising at home, in a short video produced by Lyndsey.

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Therapy dogs from Southampton Children’s Hospital are spreading important health information and engaging children in a colouring campaign while they cannot visit wards. Pictured: Dogtor Leo, canine medical officer

She has delivered 1,500 drawings – produced by illustrator Daniel Howarth – of the pack of pooches for patients to colour in and share online for relatives and friends or to give to members of staff.

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The idea can also be used by children at home, available to print from @SCHtherapydogs on Twitter or Facebook.

‘As we are unable to make visits to young patients on the wards due to coronavirus measures, we wanted to find a way to maintain the presence of therapy dogs,’ said Lyndsey.

Therapy dogs from Southampton Children’s Hospital are spreading important health information and engaging children in a colouring campaign while they cannot visit wards. Pictured: Therapy dogs and their handlers at Crufts, where Lyndsey and eight-year-old Leo were crowned winners of the Friends for Life (children’s champion) award, recognising a dog that has supported and had a positive impact on children.

‘We are also urging any children who want a fun activity to do at home to use our drawings to write a message to someone they want to thank, can’t visit at the moment, a keyworker or even to the residents of nursing or care homes.’

When finished, people are encouraged take a picture and share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, tag @SCHtherapydogs and use #goldenhugsforall.

Joyce Stebbings, youth and play services manager, said: ‘The therapy dogs are such an important part of life in the children’s hospital and not having them around is really tough for patients and our staff.

Therapy dogs from Southampton Children’s Hospital are spreading important health information and engaging children in a colouring campaign while they cannot visit wards. Pictured: The blank colouring template

‘Despite the challenges coronavirus brings and the focus on our clinical work, the importance of ideas such as this and the positive effect it has on our patients and staff alike, as well as those at home, cannot be underestimated.’

Earlier this month, Lyndsey and eight-year-old Leo were crowned winners of the Friends for Life (children’s champion) award at Crufts, recognising a dog that has supported and had a positive impact on children.

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Therapy dogs from Southampton Children’s Hospital are spreading important health information and engaging children in a colouring campaign while they cannot visit wards. Pictured: Finished drawing by a young patient called Ellie

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Therapy dogs from Southampton Children’s Hospital are spreading important health information and engaging children in a colouring campaign while they cannot visit wards. Pictured: Finished drawing by a young patient called Ellie, who included a nice message