He visits schools, hospitals, hospices and libraries, and is so good at his job, he’s even been nominated for an NHS hero award.One of the residents eagerly awaiting Dodger’s arrival is retired bank worker Valerie Cook, 80. Valerie, who has dementia, says she loves seeing friendly Dodger.
Her husband of 43 years, George, 82, added: ‘I look forward to Dodger visiting, he makes me feel happy when he visits.
‘He is such a dear dog and so well behaved. He knows us all now. I think it is such a good idea that dogs visit the home.’The former Tube worker, who also has dementia, added: ‘Most people here like him and Dodger can tell which ones of us really like him.’
The dog is also a fan of Robert Thompson, 88, who used to work at the Glassworks in Walthamstow. Care home manager Karen Martindale said Dodger has the ability to adapt to different people’s needs around him.
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She said: ‘If a resident is unwell he will lay on the bed so that their hand can touch him without any effort.
‘He will sit in the armchairs and put his head in their laps or on their shoulder.’
She added that Dodger has a few residents that he really likes and wags his tail as soon as he sees them.Ms Martindale said: ‘Once the residents are told that it is the day for Dodger to visit there is an air of excitement in the home.
‘Everyone has a story to tell either about a pet dog that they once owned or about a dog that someone else owned.’
But it’s not all hard work for Dodger, who often bags himself a custard cream or Cornish wafer on his visits.
If your dog’s acting funny, get out the umbrella! According to a Petside.com/Associated Press poll, 72% of dog owners believe their dog can detect when stormy weather is on the way.
Ms Martindale added: ‘Dogs visiting the home really do make a difference to residents’ lives. He is an absolutely amazing dog.’Dodger’s owner, Karen Gee, has written various short stories on him, and says he’s ‘on a mission’ to change any negative perception people have of staffies. Ms Gee, 56, is now waiting to find out if Dodger has won the award for his work with the NHS trusts he visits at a gala dinner in February.
The mum-of-three worked for RBS for 34 years, but swapped her banking life to write educational books about Dodger in 2013.
Soon after, the home contacted her after trying to secure the services of a therapy dog for a number of years.
Ms Gee said: ‘He enjoyed the visit as much as the residents and we have been (going) for almost two years. Dodger loves people.
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‘It’s an adventure and I love it, I love every day of it – let’s just see where it takes us.’