Therapy dog Bonnie makes her rounds at Limerick hospital

Mike Finnerty

Reporter:

Mike Finnerty

Email:

michael.finnerty@limerickleader.ie

Therapy dog Bonnie makes her rounds at Limerick hospital

Emma Hogan and Bonnie with Isaac O'Meara from Adare

ONE very special four-legged visitor is raising spirits at University Hospital Limerick.

Eight-year-old labrador Bonnie is a therapy dog who has been a regular visitor to the paediatric unit at UHL for the past two years, visiting and playing with young inpatients and day patients, and brightening the day for those at Children’s Ark.

Her handler and owner is Emma Hogan, who works at UHL.

Hogan is a lifelong animal lover who saw her voluntary work with Irish Therapy Dogs as a way of “giving something back”.

“The children are here as inpatients, or they might be coming in for day treatments, either of which can involve a lot of waiting and sitting around, which can be difficult for a child. But when they see Bonnie, their eyes just light up,” Hogan explained.

“It’s incredible what dogs can achieve, and the connections they make.”

“Bonnie is very good with children who have learning disabilities or autism, and those who may never talk. When they see Bonnie, you can see a flicker of recognition and a smile, and it’s amazing to witness,” she said.

“It’s one of the best things we’ve done here. Bonnie makes such a huge difference to everybody in the Children’s Ark when she and Emma come in for their visits,” said Kris Buckley, the Senior Play Specialist at Children’s Ark.

“It’s incredible the benefits that assistance dogs can bring. There is a girl here who suffers from anxiety, and she has an assistance dog. She came in for an EEG, and she just froze when the staff went to place the stickers on her. But the dog went up against the bed and buried his head into the girl’s lap, and she calmed right down. The staff, who were then able to complete the EEG, had never seen anything like it before and were completely amazed,” Kris said.

”Bonnie brightens everyone'

s day,” she added.