Flash the therapy dog is man's best medicine

Patients at Southmead Hospital have been getting to know a member of the care team that stands apart from the rest – a four-legged caregiver.

Flash the therapy dog, a 4 year old whippet, is the first therapy dog to work at Southmead. Last month, Flash’s owner and handler, Sara Haydon, started bringing Flash to Elgar House, which cares for patients who need further support before leaving hospital. 

Flash the therapy dog is man's best medicine

Accompanied by Sara, Flash now pops in every Wednesday where, room after room, he brings a smile to both patients and staff.

Sara had long wanted to help other people with her dogs, so earlier this year both Flash and Sara completed training through ‘Pets as Therapy’, a national charity providing therapeutic animal visits to places such as hospitals, care homes and hospices. 

Sara said: “Flash is a highly intelligent dog who has spent lots of time with my three grandsons and has interacted with a group of WW2 veterans. I think the main requirement for a therapy dog is to be calm and to listen to the owner - which Flash does.”

Sara is also training Flash’s brother, Mr Mole, who should be ready next year. She then hopes to visit the hospital twice a week, with the dogs taking it in turns.

Laurence Payne with Flash the therapy dog

Elgar House helps and supports patients to make the sometimes difficult transition from acute hospital ward safely back to their own home. Its’ focus is very much on rehabilitation, reablement and recovery.

If you are interested in registering your pet for Pets as Therapy, visit: www.petsastherapy.org