AS soon as Ruby trots into Osborne Park Hospital’s rehabilitation ward, patients’ faces light up.
The five-year-old dog started visiting the Stirling hospital in May as part of its trial patient activity program.
Owner Emma Duffy takes Ruby along to ward 4 for a few hours on Sundays to spend time with patients, many of whom have been in hospital for weeks and months.
“A lot of them miss their families and miss their pets,” she said.
“Some people give her big bear hugs and just bawl their eyes out.”
Ms Duffy volunteers with Delta Therapy Dogs, which connected her and Ruby with the hospital.
She said Ruby was ideal for the role because she was “super chill” and enjoyed the attention.
“Any dog can be a therapy dog, it’s just a temperament thing,” she said.
“She loves it, people love it.”
Corporate nurse manager Sharon Burke believed the benefits were evident, especially for patients who were more withdrawn.
“The dog comes in and bang, you see the change. It’s amazing,” she said.
“People are just gushing and say it’s brightening their day.”
Patient Judith Patrick, of Mt Lawley, said it was fantastic to be able to pet Ruby.
“We all have love in our hearts,” she said.
The hospital recently expanded the program to another rehabilitation ward, with volunteer organisation Friends of OPH funding an additional therapy dog to visit ward 3.
The patient activity program also includes arts and crafts, watching movies and sports, dance demonstrations, relaxation and meditation sessions.