Therapy dogs bring calming influence to fraught Westminster

Three dog lovers whose pets provide a therapy service in hospitals, schools and care homes were welcomed to Westminster by their MP Rishi Sunak.

Ruth and David Boyes of Spennithorne, near Leyburn, and Sarah Eley, of Northallerton, attended a Parliamentary reception for Therapy Dogs Nationwide with their dogs Charlie, an Airedale, and Barkley, a British Bulldog.

Therapy Dogs Nationwide (TDN) is a volunteer-led charity that provides therapy dog sessions to schools, hospitals, prisons and nursing homes.

The event allowed Mr Sunak and many other MPs to meet TDN volunteers and 15 therapy dogs and hear about the all-round benefits of therapy dog sessions.

Therapy dogs, selected for their temperament, provide a calming influence and reassuring presence during the sessions.

Mr Sunak said: “Westminster has been pretty fraught lately so I can vouch for the calming impact of Charlie and Barkley. It’s just amazing how stroking a lovely, well-behaved, dog can make you feel a bit better about the world.”

Mrs Boyes, who is a TDN trustee and was awarded the BEM for her dog therapy work in secure establishments, said the visit to Parliament had been a great success in raising the profile of Therapy Dogs and the contribution they could make to people’s well-being in a variety of settings from hospitals to prisons.

She said: “Therapy dogs are much-loved pets that bring comfort, companionship and happiness by visiting those in need.”

Anyone can volunteer with their dog but the dog’s temperament has to be carefully assessed for suitability.

More details from therapydogsnationwide.org.