Sugar and Rain's story of Pet therapy work

Hi, everyone! I am Rain. I am a PhD student doing research on mental health law at University of Leeds. Sugar is my dog. We began our volunteer journey of therapy dog visit since November 2018.

The reason why we started doing this is that from my personal experience, I felt the huge positive influence a dog can bring, and I want to bring this positive influence to more people. I have been diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder for years. After having Sugar, he helped a lot to alleviate my somatic symptoms. When I was doing my master degree in London, Sugar attended lecture with me everyday. Lots of students and academic staffs came to pet him on campus. I noticed that by spending time with Sugar, even if just 5min, they became so happy and relaxed. Getting so much attention from people also made Sugar very happy. So we decided to join a charity to do this kind of volunteer work in our spare time.

The first placement we got was at King's College Hospital. We visited the stroke unit there every Friday. Sometimes, we also went to the critical care unit if there were any severe patients who asked to see Sugar. It really means a lot to us everytime we see patients smiling when they are petting Sugar, particularly, the hope and joy shown in their eyes. This is so precious and gorgeous in healthcare settings. Currently, we are working with “Therapy Dogs Nationwide", doing regular visit to Leeds University Union. During our visit, lots of students told me Sugar has made their day. A dog therapy session really helped them dealing with the stress come from schoolwork. Many of them also told me Sugar reminded them of their own dogs. Playing with Sugar made them feel like being at home, which was so sweet and warm-hearted.

Therapy dog visit is such a valuable thing to do. I am glad that my cute little therapist is bringing love and joy to lots of people around me. What we are doing may be just a little thing, however, it could mean a lot to help make this world a better place.

Sugar & Rain  x