Pet as Therapy dog Coco takes his last woof before retirement

Coco: Retirement plans
Coco: Retirement plans
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A Pet as Therapy dog who has provided happiness to patients across Milton Keynes for the past 10 years is set to give his last woof after his owner decided it was time to hang up his coat and lead.

Coco, a cross between a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and a Chocolate Labrador, will be 14 in December and owner Joan Harrington has decided the pooch needs a rest.

During a short ceremony at the Windsor Intermediate Care Unit (WICU) in Bletchley, Joan, from Newport Pagnell, was presented with a bouquet of flowers and Coco with some dog treats for the service both have given to both CNWL and to Milton Keynes University Hospital.

Joan, 70, said: “I’m definitely going to miss this work and the people I worked with as it’s a really nice feeling being able to help others, but this is the right time for Coco to take a well-earned rest.”

Joan acquired Coco as a rescue dog from the RSPCA when he was about 10 months old in 2003.

Her intention had been to house him for a weekend, but she instantly fell in love with the furry character.

Three years later she saw an advert for Pets as Therapy and thought Coco would be ideal. He took to it like a duck to water initially working across four sites, including the WICU.

Joan said: “Coco’s visits always cheered people up as he is a friendly but calm dog.

“Often the older people would love to talk about the dogs they had. I remember one gentleman at Chrysalis who had recently lost his dog. He was very down and was talking about getting another dog. However, he had a disabled wife who was worried about this. Coco and I spent half an hour with him and let him talk about his pets and he did admit that it wasn’t practical to have another dog.”

CNWL Divisional Director Lorna Payne said of Joan: “We will miss Joan and Coco. Both have brought a lot of joy and happiness over the last 10 years to patients.

“Thank you Joan! You’re a star! Volunteers work so hard and give so much ; I can’t thank you and Coco enough.”

Tracy Harrold, Voluntary Services Manager, said: “Joan and Coco have been one of our hard working volunteers for over 10 years and have been extraordinarily generous with their time. They have given their time to our local community, providing them with pet therapy and companionship.

“As well as Pets as Therapy, we have a number of roles in the hospital which include helping with patients eating, generally assisting on the wards or providing clerical/reception support in various departments. Training is provided for some volunteer roles and this can provide younger people with the opportunity to gain valuable experience if they are looking for a career in healthcare or older people looking to fill their time after retirement.

“We are grateful for any amount of time given to the Trust.”

To find out more about volunteering call 01908 996059 or email voluntary.services@mkuh.nhs.uk