Get to know the Battersea dogs
1st April 2020
Pensioners and staff alike are always delighted when volunteers and dogs from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home make their monthly visit to the Royal Hospital. While the Battersea dogs and volunteers will not be visiting during the current restrictions in response to the Coronavirus, read on to meet the dogs and follow them when they last visited the Infirmary.
Meet the dogs
GEORGE, aka Gorgeous George
George was sold to a new owner, who took him to Battersea when they discovered how abused he’d been. When he arrived, he had almost no fur and was so traumatised that he used to commando crawl across the floor. He couldn’t be rehoused so volunteer Chris McClean took him home. George’s difficult past has taken its toll. He has some problems eating due to his broken jaw and arthritis has affected his mobility. George comes to the Royal Hospital in a buggy – arthritis due to mistreatment makes walking any distance difficult and it also makes him feel more secure. The other dogs are very supportive to George, encouraging him with enthusiastic licks! George’s contribution to Battersea has been recognised with the title Ambassadog!
Misty has been coming to the Royal Hospital for nine months. She was given to Battersea when she became pregnant and went on to have 10 puppies. She had her own little maternity wing! Misty now lives with Chris and is registered with Dogs as Therapy, where her role involves visiting prisons.
Albie is a handsome cockapoo. He was gifted to Battersea last October when his owner’s circumstances changed. When we met Albie it was his first visit to the Royal Hospital and he proved to be very popular with the Pensioners.
Despite her name (which she had when she arrived at Battersea), Whippet is a mongrel! On her visit, volunteer Gill confirmed Whippet was keen to be interviewed! We found out that Whippet came to Battersea when she was nine months old because her owner became terminally ill. She is now nine and getting a little grey around her muzzle. Whippet likes to get involved and has done the Muddy Dog assault course fundraising challenge with Gill. She lives with Chris, Misty and George. Whippet is an Ambassadog for Battersea and – like Misty – is registered with Dogs as Therapy.
Visiting the Pensioners
As we walk into the Infirmary, we meet Pensioner John, who greets the dogs and volunteers and comments: “You’ll get more sense out of the dogs than us!” Charmaine is happy to see them too and tells us she got her first dog from Battersea.
The dogs are delighted to see their old friends in the Infirmary – and seem to remember some of them. The volunteers reminisce about ‘pig-ear Pat’ who used to keep these delicious (for dogs!) morsels in a Quality Street tin for the canine visitors! On their rounds, they were very pleased to see Frank, who had treats ready for them.
When the dogs pop in to see 100-year-old George Parsons, his face lights up. He shares a story of his first dog, Rover, who used to take him to school when he started, aged five, and was waiting to collect him at the end of the day. D-Day veteran Bob Sullivan also welcomes them warmly and talks about the dogs he and his wife used to own.
George Stevenson has a particularly close bond with the dogs. When we arrive at his berth he’s feeling quite low, but comes to life when he sees his four-legged friends. Whippet and George jump on his bed, while Misty licks his face and watches the squirrels out of the window. “George is my favourite. I met him first and he’s called George too”, the Pensioner tells us. By the time we leave George has cheered up and is ready to join a tea party on his ward.
Chris says that the visits to the Royal Hospital are a win-win for both dogs and Pensioners:
“The dogs like the attention and there are lots of benefits for the Pensioners. A lot of them owned dogs and miss them. It’s calming for many of them and they like to have a cuddle. Dogs are very therapeutic and they give the Pensioners something to look forward to. They’re non-judgemental too. It doesn’t matter if someone has disabilities or hearing loss – they take people at face value.”