One team with a tail to tell is Rufus the dog and his owner Malcolm Dunbar, who joined us earlier this year as Pets As Therapy (PAT) volunteers.

Together they bring comfort and companionship to patients and their families who benefit from interacting with a friendly animal.

Malcolm wanted to offer his and Rufus’ support to those in need after facing his own battles with bowel, liver and lung cancer over the past eight years.

Today he is cancer free and the dynamic duo have enjoyed a number of visits to our hospice wards and Living Well day service sessions since starting three months ago.

He (Malcolm) said: “Rufus always receives the most wonderful welcome from guests, patients and staff.

“He is a source of great pride for me, knowing as soon as I put his PAT coat on he is in the ‘zone’ and ready to meet people.

“Apart from being the ‘bloke on the other end of the lead’, my job is to always sit down with patients and chat about all manner of things, whilst Rufus lies down between us.

“I have some experience of counselling and know how important it is to devote time and listen, especially with the more elderly.”

Malcolm, who rescued Labrador collie cross Rufus several years ago, says he knows the value of being cared for after his own experiences with illness.

“I feel I can empathise fully with patients and I am grateful to be in such a fortunate position to give support with Rufus,” he said.

“The reactions we get from those patients with whom we engage are, at times, more than moving. I have no second thoughts on being able to give of my time in such a way.”

Malcolm added: “Without exception, everyone I have met at the hospice maintains a natural air of cheerfulness and dedication.

“And one of the uppermost ways we’ve benefited from volunteering has to be the way Rufus and I have been welcomed and ‘adopted’ by everyone.”

To find out more about Pets As Therapy volunteering click here

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