Minnie joined the Trust this year and attends The Harbour in Blackpool every Wednesday with her owner Lisa Whittle as part of the initiative ‘Woof Wednesday’.

Lisa is a Health and Wellbeing Occupational Health Assistant based on the Older Adult wards at the Harbour. Lisa has worked for the Trust for over eight years and knew Minnie displayed all the characteristics to become a therapy dog so earlier this year, guided Minnie through her exams.

A typical working day for Minnie can involve visiting patients who are bed bound, offering them the chance to interact with her and walking with patients in the grounds to promote exercise and increase their mobility.

Having Minnie visit can often remind patients of their own family pets and make the ward feel more homely and offer some normality to people who are hospitalised.

She is trained to help with calming potential emotional situations as stroking and engaging with dogs is proven to lift moods and help relieve stress.

For Minnie’s first Christmas at the Harbour she will be helping staff and service users alike celebrate the festive period by hosting her very own Christmas Eve party with a buffet lunch, Christmas games, music, dancing, bingo and playing Santa’s little helper with a Secret Santa present exchange.

Lisa commented:

“Minnie and I are both really excited for our first working Christmas together. I see first-hand the joy Minnie brings to our patients and staff and I know this will feel even more special and worthwhile at Christmas time. Many of my colleagues have commented on the positive impact Minnie has around the wards not just for the patients but for themselves. We often work in high pressured situations but you can’t help but smile when you see her.”

As a Trust we acknowledge the huge positive impact Minnie has made to our service users and staff and are recruiting another therapy dog in the New Year. Barnie will join The Harbour team in early January to continue to help patients relieve feelings of depression and encourage them to talk and take part in activities to help their mental health.