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Greyhounds cheer up hospital patients

PUBLISHED: 15:56 25 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:50 30 June 2010

RETIRED greyhounds make fantastic pets, and many use their days of leisure to give something back to their local communities.

In Norfolk, thanks to the energy of the staff and volunteers at Great Yarmouth Greyhound Homefinders, some of the animals are doing just that.

RETIRED greyhounds make fantastic pets, and many use their days of leisure to give something back to their local communities.

In Norfolk, thanks to the energy of the staff and volunteers at Great Yarmouth Greyhound Homefinders, some of the animals are doing just that.

David Jones, co-ordinator at Homefinders, was contacted by Rowan House Community Hospital, at Buxton,

which provides specialist assessment, treatment and rehabilitation services for adults.

The hospital team asked if they could take some patients to the organisation's kennels at Hainford to see and walk the dogs.

The result was good for all concerned, as the dogs always love a walk and the humans enjoy the fresh air and unconditional love given by the dogs.

But the greyhounds cannot rely on just those people for all their walks because of the various treatment schedules, so the undaunting support of 30 volunteer walkers means the dogs are walked by a different group every day.

Schools and colleges also benefit from Homefinders.

Both Easton College and Sheringham High School have placed their pupils at the kennels as part of their work experience, either as a two or three-week week placement or every Monday during term time.

Meanwhile, Mr Jones and his retired greyhound Abi are changing the lives of elderly people at St David's Nursing Home, Sheringham, with weekly visits.

Resident Terry Holmes, 76, is one of Abi's biggest fans.

Mr Jones said: “Terry is in a wheelchair and has just come out of hospital after a major operation. He has known Abi for two-and-a-half years and looks forward to Abi's visits so much; in fact, he is not interested in me - I am completely invisible!

“It's all about the lovely relationship between Abi and Terry.

“The visits really help Terry and do wonders for his overall wellbeing.”

Mr Jones and Abi trained through the Pets As Therapy charity, which registers volunteers to go into hospitals, hospices, residen-tial care homes, day centres and special-needs schools across the country.

There are around 4,500 PAT dogs and 108 PAT cats helping more than 130,000 people across the country.

The Yarmouth Greyhound Homefinders team is always looking for volunteers to walk the dogs, to get involved in Pets As Therapy or to help raise funds to ensure that the charity can continue its work caring for dogs awaiting new homes.

If you would like more information on volunteer walking, fundraising oppor-tunities, leaving a legacy or adopting a retired greyhound, call 0845 458 3797.

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