Paw-fect way to cheer patients

Samantha Neil and her Cavoodle, Rusty. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 206275_03

By Alesha Capone

Samantha Neil and her cavoodle Rusty have been bringing a dose of doggy cheer to patients at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Werribee for the past eight months.

Ms Neil and Rusty, who is 3.5 years old, volunteer with the Delta Society, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to help animals to bring joy to patients at places such as hospitals, aged care facilities and schools.

“After being a full-time stay-at-home mum for seven years, I was ready to get out and about once both my children went off to school at the start of last year,” Ms Neil said.

“I didn’t want to leave Rusty at home on his own and I already knew he had a great temperament and loved people.”

Ms Neil said after hearing about Delta Dogs, she decided to get Rusty assessed to see if he could become doggy volunteer with the organisation.

“He passed and then we got placement at St Vincent’s Hospital Werribee where we visit patients and staff on a weekly basis,” she said.

“I love volunteering at St Vincent’s, because I love seeing Rusty light up the room.

“If I can brighten someone’s day just a little bit during their difficult time then I am happy.

“Rusty loves going because he gets cuddles off everyone, he gets to sit up on chairs and snuggle with the patients in their beds.”

Ms Neil said she and Rusty have also visited university libraries and workplaces, as part of Delta Dogs’ programs.