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Charlie the therapist
CHARLIE the Airedale Terrier who helps adults with severe learning difficulties is one of six in the country to be nominated as dog of the year by charity Pets as Therapy.
Charlie lives in Leyburn with owner Ruth Boyes and visits Whorlton Hall Hospital, near Barnard Castle, working with adults with severe learning difficulties.
Mrs Boyes, who is an assessor for Pets as Therapy (PATS), became interested in the charity when she noticed how another dog Sandy behaved around her seriously ill grandson.
Born with severe cerebral palsy her grandson Robert died when he was just two.
She said: “Sandy had never particularly liked children but she would sit with Robert and allow him to touch her.
"He suffered from uncontrollable spasms and would sometimes grab her quite hard but she never seemed to mind. She seemed more aware of his condition than some humans did.”
Now Mrs Boyes regularly takes Charlie to Whorlton Hall and also to two prisons, Wealstun prison near Wetherby and another young offenders institution which houses extremely vulnerable boys aged 15 to 17.
Mrs Boyes said she was in floods of tears when she heard Charlie had been shortlisted, adding: “I’m so proud of him. The places he works are unusual and sometimes difficult environments but he brings such pleasure to people and they never want him to leave. He really helps to calm a situation down. If he wins, I’ll be so happy for the people he visits.”
The PATS Dog of the Year competition is sponsored by pet food manufacturers HiLife,. The winner will be revealed at Crufts in March 2014. Anyone who would like to vote for Charlie go to www.yours.co.uk/patdogs or http://www.yours.co.uk/patdogs.
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