THE Martlets Hospice has welcomed a new care worker.

Bobby, a rescue dog from Shoreham Dogs Trust, was recently announced as a Pets As Therapy dog and visits patients at the hospice in Hove.

PAT dogs give companionship and friendship, helping to tackle loneliness as well as improving the lives of people suffering from ill health.

Bobby’s owner Ginny O’Reilly, a community nurse with the hospice, said: “He just loves people, everyone’s always delighted to see him and he’s definitely a hospice celebrity.

“He knows even before I’ve got out the car where to go.

“The hospice can be a stressful place sometimes but it makes such a difference him being there, it makes the place feel more relaxed and – in a sense – more homely.”

Ginny takes Bobby to visit patients in the hospice and even to their homes and says having a companion makes a world of difference to those in care. She said: “I used to take him to see my mum in a home and it makes such a difference.

“He’s so laid back, we couldn’t believe our luck with him being a rescue dog because he’s just so well behaved and everyone adores him, he’s never caused a fuss once. It’s about focusing on something else, people identify with him and the most important thing is he does pick up on how they feel.

“We visited a lady yesterday who was feeling down, and we were meant to go to the park but he picked up on the fact ‘OK, she’s struggling, she needs this time to heal’ and stayed by her side all day.”