Therapy dog brings joy to Lucy

Six-year-old Sunshine Coast patient Lucy Bevis couldn’t wipe the smile off her face when Yoshi, the pet therapy dog, walked into her Mater Children’s Private Brisbane hospital room.

After a hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions, Yoshi the eight-year-old Samoyed is back in the business of cheering up patients at the South Brisbane hospital.

For Sunshine Coast girl, Lucy, the petted pooch was a welcome distraction.

“He really helped to keep Lucy calm during what was a very stressful time,” said Lucy’s mum, Carlie Bevis.

“It was the best thing we could have asked for at the time because he distracted her from everything that was going on and she loves dogs.”

Yoshi’s owner is Dr Alex Hynes, who is host of the Channel Ten TV show Bondi Vet, but Mater volunteer Ashleigh Cheers handles the celebrity pet when he’s doing the rounds at Mater.

Ms Cheers said it was satisfying to see how much joy Yoshi brought to patients, young and old.

“He loves the attention, and he loves being here,” said Ms Cheers, of Cleveland.

“With plenty of carrots to nibble on throughout his visiting schedule, he’s one happy dog.

“I can tell he’s really missed his regular visits to the hospital.”

Mater Hospital Brisbane Volunteer Coordinator Russell Williams said Yoshi was one of nine therapy dogs to visit patients within the hospital as part of the Pet Therapy Program, which started more than 20 years ago.

“Because of COVID-19 we had to pause the program, but now that the dogs are back, we can see just how much their presence means to our patients, just like Lucy,” Mr Williams said.

“It’s not just patients who benefit from these therapy dogs, but it’s the staff too. They love when the dogs make their way around the hospital.”

Mr Williams said the dogs visited a range of patients including those who were terminally ill, undergoing cancer treatment or recovering from surgery.v