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Meet QA’s loveable Pets as Therapy dog Louis

Meet QA’s loveable Pets as Therapy dog Louis
05 July 2019

Compassion is a key part in delivering great care for our patients, and beloved Pets as Therapy dog Louis knows just what that looks like.

Louis is a Golden Labrador and he never fails to brighten up every room he enters with his wagging tail, bright eyes and gentle personality when he comes to visit QA.

A Pets as Therapy dog is a dog that has been specifically trained to be approachable, comforting and affectionate. PAT dogs must be over nine months old, and need to pass a temperament assessment.

Loveable 3-year-old Louis, alongside his owner Madeleine Smies from Petersfield, have taken the time to visit the children’s wards at QA every Tuesday morning, since September 2018.

Madeleine explains: “When I first went to see Louis as a puppy he more or less chose me, I picked him up and he clung on to me! I’ve had six rescue dogs before Louis and this time I wanted one dog that I have chosen for myself.

“Louis is exceptional, he’s so calm. A therapy dog has to be very calm, they have rules to follow, and they must have a good temperament which Louis does. They also need to like being cuddled and touched!”

Louis originally started his journey as a PAT dog when he was a puppy. Madeleine says: “He passed his PAT dog test when he was a puppy, but I decided that I wanted him to fully enjoy his ‘puppyhood’. Louis re-took the test later on, and passed it again!”

It hasn’t always been plain sailing for Louis, however, after he himself experienced medical worries as a puppy. Because of this, madeleine says Louis is an even stronger support to the children he visits.

Madeleine explains: “Louis went to Fitzpatrick Referrals [as seen on TV series Supervet] when he was just ten months old. Louis had elbow dysplasia and was referred to the Supervet team where Miguel Solano helped him. Miguel was wonderful!

“I say to the children at QA that Louis has been in hospital as well, and Louis knows how you feel.”

Ferne Stent, 3-and-a-half years old, is a patient on the Starfish ward in the Paediatric department, and says: “Louis is perfect, he gave me a big kiss! The lady [Madeleine] dropped her keys and Louis picked them up using his mouth, because he didn’t have any spare hands, and gave them back to her.”

Madeleine loves to bring Louis in and add a smile to the excitable patient’s faces, and after nine months of visiting, Madeleine knows the staff well.

Madeleine says: “The staff are lovely, it’s a pleasure to come to QA. The doctors, nurses, cleaners, everyone you meet is lovely.”

Sue Richardson, Play Specialist in QA’s Paediatric department, says: “The children and staff at QA love seeing Louis on the wards, he really does brighten up everyone’s day. As soon as he enters the room the children start to smile and it’s wonderful to see! Therapy dogs are so important to us because of moments like this, and we hugely appreciate Madeleine taking the time to bring Louis in every Tuesday.”

Louis is a fully trained and extremely popular PAT dog, and his weekly trips to the large Paediatrics department at QA are always warmly welcomed by patients and staff alike. The smiles that instantly appear on children’s faces when Louis enters a room clearly demonstrate just how much of a positive impact he has.

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