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Irvine Greyhound wins Therapet of the Year award for work as an assistance dog

AN IRVINE greyhound who was rescued from a watery fate has now won a prestigious award for her work as an assistance dog.

Megan, who celebrates her 10th birthday in January, beat off competition from 700 other assistance dogs to win Therapet of the Year.

But according to owner Linda Whitby, her successful career almost never happened.

Ms Whitby said: “Megan is a rescue dog. She was going to be thrown in the River Forth, but some people saw [what was] about to happen, and stopped it. They put her into the Greyhound Awareness League.

“We’ve had her for seven years.”

Therapets are a form of animal assisted therapy, organised by the charity Canine Concern Scotland Trust, using dogs as friendly companions to help people overcome problems with stress and anxiety.

They also help combat loneliness in people who have been forced to move into sheltered housing or other solitary situations.

Ms Whitby explained: “Megan goes to universities to help students [who are] stressed at exam time.

“Reading with Dogs help children who are less confident reading [out loud] in class – they read to the dog instead. Dogs are non-judgmental, of course!

“We go to Haysholm School very regularly – as well as the Douglas Grant [rehabilitation unit] and Woodland View hospital.”

Ms Whitby was in no doubt that Megan – who is part of the town’s Kirk Dog Training Club – deserved her success for the positive impact she has had on the people she has met.

She added: “Many [of the] older men have memories of the old racing tracks in Irvine – I’ve [had] a few tips from them!”

Amazingly, Megan is not the first dog from Irvine to win the accolade though – a Border Terrier called Bonnie took home the title in 2013.

The Canine Concern Scotland Trust was founded in 1988 to help dogs and their owners improve their position in present-day society.

The Therapets service has been a key plank of the charity’s work since its inception.

The charity is always looking for volunteers who have a friendly dog and a few hours to spend each month visiting people who miss their dogs now that they are in hospital or in a care home.

Words by Derek Murdoch – This article appeared in the Irvine Times on 24th November 2016

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Read more go to CCST AWARDS PAGE

"Photo courtesy of Barking Cat Pet Photography" copyright rests with the photographer

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