Read how Lily the Collie Cross is helping residents at Baylham Care Centre in Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 16:16 10 August 2017 | UPDATED: 18:49 10 August 2017
A former stray pup has become a therapy dog at a care home in Ipswich, providing residents with "life-changing" support and companionship.
Initially scooped up from the streets by staff at Dogs Trust and taken into a rehoming facility in Basildon, Lily the Collie Cross was adopted by Anne Goad from Coddenham in January 2016.
Despite Lily’s sprightly nature, Anne noticed how calming and gentle she was with her cousin, Brian Mellowship, who is being looked after at Baylham Care Centre in Ipswich after suffering a brain aneurysm in 2013. He also has agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder characterised by fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult.
Brian is supported by Headway Suffolk, and when bosses saw how Lily interacted with him, they thought she would make a good candidate for the charity’s ‘Brainy Dog’ programme, which trains therapy and companion dogs for patients with brain injuries and dementia.
Lily was coached with the help of inmates from Hollesley Bay as part of Headway Suffolk’s partnership with the open prison, helping people approaching the end of long-term sentences to rehabilitate into society.
The clever hound now has a permanent place at Baylham, visiting residents twice a week.
Anne, 63, said: “I’m a great believer in empowering people to reach their full potential, and I’m proud of Lily and the work that she does.”
Helen Fairweather, CEO at Headway Suffolk, added: “Often after a brain injury or neurological condition people can experience loneliness and life changes which can sadly result in them losing contact with friends and family or they may find social situations rather difficult.
“Our Brainy Dogs programme really helps lift people out of depression and offers support and comfort during challenging times, giving people a purpose in life.
“Lily has such a sweet and gentle character and she’s a quick learner. Whether it’s stimulation through grooming or playing hide and seek, the positive impact that therapy dogs have on individuals – they can really help boost communication and motor skills, as well as aiding mobility, such as helping those in wheelchairs with picking up items.
“The interaction with a four-legged friend is life-changing for our clients – even if it’s just having a cuddle or walking.”
Anne said Lily was an active member of the Coddenham community, and would often join her at church services and visits to an over-55s group.
“She has a very busy life,” Anne added. “Lily has changed my life for the better. I live on my own and she’s my companion; it’s very social when I go out walking with her. I initially wanted another elderly dog at Dogs Trust, but the adoption advisor suggested that Lily would be perfect for my lifestyle, and she is.”