Dodger the Staffy is every pensioner’s best friend

Dodger helps dementia sufferers
Dodger brings ‘excitement and buzz’ to the east London care home (Pictures: Susannah Ireland)
There’s a buzz going round this care home in east London – apparently Dodger the staffy is on his way over. Dodger is a six-year-old therapy dog who has come for his monthly visit to George Mason Lodge in Leytonstone.

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.
LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Dodger, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is pictured with residents Valerie and George Cook at the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. Dodger is a regular visitor to the home as part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, which aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier with residents Valerie and George Cook (Picture: Susannah Ireland)
LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Dodger, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is pictured with residents Valerie and George Cook at the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. Dodger is a regular visitor to the home as part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, which aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Also pictured is Dodger's owner Karen Gee (far left). Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
The couple love Dodger’s monthly visits with owner Karen Gee (left) (Picture: Susannah Ireland)
LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Dodger, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is pictured with residents Valerie and George Cook at the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. Dodger is a regular visitor to the home as part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, which aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
Dodger ‘knows how to behave with different residents’ (Picture: Susannah Ireland)
LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Karen Martindale, manager of the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. Dodger, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is a regular visitor to the home as part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, which aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Also pictured is Dodger's owner Karen Gee (far left). Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
Karen Martindale, manager of the care home, is a fan of her monthly visitor (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

‘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.’

Teach your dog to file his or her own nails by attaching sandpaper to a piece of wood.

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.

She said: ‘If a resident is unwell he will lay on the bed so that their hand can touch him without any effort.

LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Dodger, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is pictured with residents Valerie and George Cook at the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. Dodger is a regular visitor to the home as part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, which aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
Dodger does his best puppy eyes (Picture: Susannah Ireland)
LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Dodger, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is pictured interacting with Robert Thompson, resident of the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. The visit, part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Also pictured is George Mason Lodge deputy manager Maria Aljoe. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
Resident Robert Thompson (right) with home deputy manager Maria Aljoe (Picture: Susannah Ireland)
LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Dodger, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is pictured with residents Valerie and George Cook at the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. Dodger is a regular visitor to the home as part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, which aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Also pictured is Dodger's owner Karen Gee (far left). Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
Dodger and Karen visit various different locations together (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

‘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.’

LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Dodger, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is pictured interacting with Robert Thompson, resident of the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. The visit, part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
Pals Dodger and Robert share a friendly moment (Picture: Susannah Ireland)
LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Dodger, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is pictured with residents Valerie and George Cook at the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. Dodger is a regular visitor to the home as part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, which aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
Dodger is a six-year-old Staffy (Picture: Susannah Ireland)
LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Dodger, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is pictured with residents Valerie and George Cook at the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. Dodger is a regular visitor to the home as part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, which aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
Dodger helps enhance residents’ wellbeing by calming, soothing and preventing them from feeling isolated (Picture: Susannah Ireland)
LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Dodger, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is pictured with residents Valerie and George Cook at the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. Dodger is a regular visitor to the home as part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, which aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
Dodger strikes a pose with the Cooks, who both have dementia (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

If you have a small dog, cutting up a lamb roll into tiny pieces is a cost-effective way to make healthy, bite-sized training treats. A 1-pound roll costs $6.98. Cut it up into the desired size, store most of it in a ziplock bag in the freezer, and leave the rest on the counter for immediate use.

But it’s not all hard work for Dodger, who often bags himself a custard cream or Cornish wafer on his visits.

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.
LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Dodger, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is pictured waiting to see residents at the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. Dodger is a regular visitor to the home as part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, which aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
The dog brings ‘excitement and buzz’, the home say (Picture: Susannah Ireland)
LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Dodger, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is pictured at the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. Dodger is a regular visitor to the home as part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, which aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Also pictured is Dodger's owner Karen Gee (far left). Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
Dodger has a taste for custard creams and Cornish wafers – but don’t tell owner Karen (Picture: Susannah Ireland)
LONDON, DECEMBER 3RD 2019. THERAPY DOG Dodger, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix therapy dog, is pictured with owner Karen Gee at the George Mason Lodge care home in Leytonstone, London, December 3rd, 2019. Dodger is a regular visitor to the home as part of the Pets as Therapy initiative scheme, which aims to use dogs to help enhance residents wellbeing by calming and soothing them and preventing them from feeling isolated. Photo credit: Susannah Ireland
Karen worked in a bank for 34 years before swapping life at RBS to work full time with Dodger (Picture: Susannah Ireland)

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.

It pays to be a lap dog. Three dogs (from First Class cabins!) survived the sinking of the Titanic – two Pomeranians and one Pekingese.

‘It’s an adventure and I love it, I love every day of it – let’s just see where it takes us.’