Elizabeth Craik and her pet dogs have been putting smiles on hospital patients’ faces for two decades.
The former physiotherapist of 40years, who retired four years ago, revels in her voluntary role with Canine Concern.
For the past 20years Elizabeth has been stopping by wards at first Gartnavel Royal Hospital and then, in recent years, the hospital’s elderly assessment unit, with her dogs as a way of easing patients’ suffering.
Elizabeth has seen the joy companionship from her well-trained and calm pets can provide to patients.With former much-loved pets and her current dogs Mollie, an 11year-old cross Collie and Annie, a 6year-old Lurcher. Elizabeth has brought much-needed happiness to patients.
Any pets that Elizabeth brings in to the hospital are tested and examined by a vet who will give their approval.
The 64year-old, from Old Drumchapel, was recently awarded an inscribed vase for 20years service to the charity and has no sign of hanging up her pets’ leads just yet.Elizabeth spoke to the Post about her voluntary role, which she adores. “I used to be a member of the Pat Dogs and I visited patients in Gartnavel Royal”
“That was an English group, there was no Scottish form of it – then Canine Concern started.
We go in and they may have no visitors so they quite appreciate it”.
There are a lot of people who have done good work with their dogs. If anyone wants to do it the dog has to be calm and friendly, they can’t be jumpy and pushy.
“They are there as a companion, they sit and get stroked – they are not there to jump around and do tricks”.
“It does the patients a great benefit – many of them had pets and they miss them”.“If you get a patient who has had a stroke you can sit with the dog on their affected side which makes them look towards you”.
“You get patients that won’t speak but they will chat with the animal”.
“[Canine Concern] has people that just visit children or the autistic and it makes a big difference – the dogs have a big effect on them”.
“I mostly take my cross Collie Mollie- she is anything but shy”.
“ I sit and chat with the patients and they will give her a cuddle and she will respond to them”.
“Because I’m in the assessment end I don’t always see the same people”.
“Some of them are quite down and by the time they’ve chatted to the dog they are smiling”.
“ I usually phone[the unit] in the afternoon, then I go in at night and see if it’s alright to come in”.
“I ask them from the outer door and if they’re scared of dogs I can just speak to them from the door”.
“The nurses may say ‘you have to go and see so and so, they love dogs’”.
“ I quite like doing it – I like speaking to the patients as that has been my work for 40years [as a physiotherapist]”.
“The dogs like it – when I go over the bumps at the entrance to the hospital they are noisy in the back, they know where they are and they love it”.
“Its hard to think of individual cases because you see so many people, but I was asked to one who was pretty ill – the lady’s mother was dying. Millie put her front up on the bed and [the patient] put her hand on it – the patient’s daughters were thrilled”.
Picture taken by Andrew
This article appeared in Clydebank Post 02/12/2010