7 February 2020 Teesside University, Southfield Rd, Middlesbrough TS1 3BX, UK

Volunteers from the national charity were present on campus yesterday afternoon, alongside their adorable best friends.

"Awwww, do that some more!" - Charlie enjoys the attention of a student happy distracted from her dissertation.
"Awwww, do that some more!" - Charlie enjoys the attention of a student happy distracted from her dissertation.

Teesside University students enjoyed the companionship of some extra special visitors today, as volunteers from the charity Therapy Dogs Nationwide brought their pooches to campus yesterday afternoon.

Organised by the University's Paramedic Society; Charlie, Korben, Havvie and many more, all got to enjoy the love and attention of passing students, who couldn't resist a ruffle of their soft manes.

Starting off on the first floor of the Student Union at lunch time, the pack and their handlers then made their way to the Clarendon Building, followed by a final stop in the library, before making their way home for a well earned snooze just after 2pm.

Immeasurable Impact

The idea of using animals as a form of therapy is a simple one.

So it's perhaps surprising that the increased growth and recognition of voluntary led schemes such as Therapy Dogs Nationwide has only happened over recent years.

Set up just over three-years ago, the national charity now has over 1,000 volunteers across the country, who work to support a wide range of people across a number of settings as Trustee, Ruth Boyes BME explained;

"We visit 100,000's of people every week in the country.

"We visit hospitals, hospices, care homes, prisons, schools.

"We also have a programme called Paws to Read, where volunteers go into schools with their dogs and children who are very reluctant readers read to the dog.

"It's not as frightening as reading to the teacher!"

Havvie wonders what all the fuss is about?
Havvie wonders what all the fuss is about?

And Ruth, who has had therapy dogs for nearly 20-years and was awarded the British Empire Medal for her work in this field, would go onto reveal the immeasurable impact that a charity like this can have on people;

"It's extremely rewarding. You can go onto a ward in a hospital and somebodies very down, very depressed, they might have heard bad news.

"You walk in with a dog and I've seen faces light up.

"'Oh there's a dog, can I stroke him?' 'Oh, We used to have a dog.' and immediately you've got a conversation starter.

"So that when the visitor comes, instead of saying has you seen the Doctor, have you had your breakfast, they can say 'a dog has been to visit me.'"

Fellow volunteer Janet would later enforce that idea by retailing on of her own experiences with May;

"We met one elderly lady who had very serious dementia, who didn't speak, didn't communicate.

"As soon as we took her in the room, the lady started talking and the nurses couldn't believe it.

"So every time we go we make sure we go and see that lady. She just brings her so much joy, she loves it, the lady absolutely comes out of her shell."

Phoebe (and her owner Kathy) meet students in Teesside University's library
Phoebe (and her owner Kathy) meet students in Teesside University's library

"Dogs make everyone happy"

It was clear to see the group of four-legged friends were well received wherever they went on Campus.

And for many of the students we spoke to about the visit, the chance to interact with such adorable dogs was a welcome distraction.

"I think its cute, it's good, it's different, we're just stuck in the same place" said Sabrina after meeting Phoebe, "it's not even a distraction.

"We don't even go out for a walk when we are stressed, we just sit there and eat junk. It's what we need."

This was a sentiment shared by Courtney who had taken a shine to Charlie.

"I think it's great, I absolutely love dogs so I'm happy every time we meet eyes" she said, adding "I'm doing dissertation work so I'm glad for any break."

And for Hannah, who described herself as "definitely a dog person," having the chance to share the love for another dog whilst living away from your own was of great comfort.

"I think it's lovely. It's so nice when you're away from your family and you don't get to see your own pooch, I think it's nice to have that affection again."

But it was perhaps Physio student Mark, who through his simple endorsement, explained why the day's visit had proved such a success.

"Dogs make everyone happy!"

Despite how it looks, Massie was enjoying the attention, as was another gentleman.
Despite how it looks, Massie was enjoying the attention, as was another gentleman.

Happy to be here

Expressing her delight at the response from students, Ruth was to reveal that working with the University's Paramedic Society held an added significance for her.

"We're very happy to be here and if I can be personal, I am especially, because I am so grateful to Paramedics... because two paramedics saved my life after a cardiac arrest two-years ago."

And lead organiser from the society, Jessica Snaith was equally happy that the Paramedic Society could lend there support to a perhaps lesser known but no-less fantastic charity whilst helping students at what can be a busy and stressful time.

"As a society we are trying to do more and more things for smaller charities" Jessica explained, adding that holding events like this helps "raises awareness and raises money from this cause."

This ambition will see the society hold a fundraiser for Therapy Dogs Nationwide, on Campus next week.

And Ruth was to stress the importance of people digging deep to help the charity to continue doing more with their powerful and positive work.

"Obviously, we rely entirely on donations.

"We need all the time, because we're growing so quickly, we need things like the shows, things like leaflets, even things like leaflets they're all obviously to be paid for.

But in addition to financial support, Ruth was also to stress that the charity would also be happy to hear from people looking to donate their time and dog as volunteers.

"We welcome applications to join us.

"If they look on our website and if they're interested in giving up some of their time as well as having a dog that has a lovely temperament we're happy to assess them."

Jessica Snaith, organiser of the event, with Korben
Jessica Snaith, organiser of the event, with Korben

Details of the full Therapy Dogs Nationwide team that visited Teesside University on Wednesday;

Charlie (Airedale Terrier), Cassie and Lola (Golden Retrievers), Havvie (Spanish Water Dog) and Rosie (Yorkshire Terrier), Phoebe (Lowchen), May (Bichon Frise), Maisie (Labrador Retreiver) and Annie (Labrador) and Korben (English Bull Terrier).

To find out more about Therapy Dogs Nationwide and how you can support this brilliant charity, or to simply see more of the dogs, go to

You can also find, like and follow #TDN on Facebook; Twitter; and Instagram;

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