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09 Aug 2022

WATCH: Beloved therapy dog makes last rounds at children's ward in University Hospital Limerick

WATCH: Beloved therapy dog makes last rounds at children's ward in University Hospital Limerick

Katie Liston from Newcastle West pictured with Bonnie during the beloved therapy dog’s final rounds at the Children’s Ark paediatric unit in University Hospital Limerick

STAFF and patients at the Children's Ark paediatric ward in University Hospital Limerick have bid a fond farewell to therapy dog Bonnie as she starts her well earned retirement. 

Bonnie made her final rounds last week after four years of visits to the Ark where she would play with inpatients and day patients as they received treatment and underwent tests. 

The beloved Labrador received a special ‘World’s Best Therapy Dog’ certificate to mark the occasion of her final visit. 

Senior Play Specialist at the Children’s Ark, Kristina Buckley said patients and staff would greatly miss the 11 year old dog's regular visits. 

“Bonnie was our first therapy dog, and we’re so grateful to her owner, Emma Hogan, who works here in University Hospital Limerick.

"Bonnie has made such a huge difference to the children, cheering them up through her friendly presence, and assisting in calming children who are anxious about being in hospital.

"She’s an amazing dog, and we hope she has a long and happy retirement,” Kristina said.

Happily Bonnie's sister Bella will be taking over the role in the new year thanks to their owner Emma who formed the Irish Therapy Dogs Visiting Team with her canine pals.

Sadie O’Malley from Castleconnell, County Limerick, pictured with Bonnie during the beloved therapy dog’s final rounds at the Children’s Ark paediatric unit in University Hospital Limerick

Emma is the dogs handler and owner who works at UHL as a secretary to Dr Brian Casserly.

She became interested in the work of therapy dogs after she witnessed the heartbreak of a relative who was separated from their pet after they were placed in a nursing home. 

Emma said: “Irish Therapy Dogs is an amazing organisation, and it was the perfect fit for me, because I’ve always been fascinated by what dogs can achieve through the connections that they are able to make with humans, especially children.

"Bonnie is great with children who have learning disabilities and autism, for example. You can really see from their responses to Bonnie the positive contribution that assistance dogs can make in a busy hospital environment.

"It’s been a privilege bringing Bonnie here over the past four years, and we’ll be able to continue as the Irish Therapy Dogs Visiting Team for the Children’s Ark with Bella, and continue Bonnie’s great work.”

Bella is a two year old miniature schnauzer who is the mother of five puppies who are three months old. 

She even has her own Instagram page! You can follow along with her adventures here.

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