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This year I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet Ralph and Kristy, which exceeded all expectations. For some, Ralph may just be ‘another dog in the room’, but for me he was much more and his role as a therapy dog helped immeasurably. Some days I would have a fighting battle to get out of bed, where I felt barely functional, but come Wednesday I would see Ralph, a day I never wanted to miss.

With Kristy’s guidance I had many opportunities to teach Ralph tricks in a way that was easy and something I connected with and understood. Teaching Ralph tricks really helped me connect with him and over the weeks I realised that visiting Ralph helped me reconnect with life, for the first time in a long while I was experiencing real happiness that came from within. Therapy dogs are vital, as they have the ability to connect to individuals on a different level, where humans cannot. Having a trauma background, I had trouble being approached from behind. I was stuck in a dark place of depression but also had times of high anxiety. Being with Ralph helped me manage those feelings, often managing those feelings behind my visard. I felt so safe when I was with Ralph, he has such a calm and gentle nature, which comforted me greatly and he loves lots of pats!

I’d leave my sessions with Ralph feeling like I had a breath of fresh air and would often find myself talking to my mates about the day I had with him, showing them photos or videos of our session and the tricks he did that day.

Sometimes you do not know the impact that someone or something has had on you until an event happens. I was admitted to hospital when I was very unwell and it wasn’t until a week later that I realised I had sent an email that I didn’t recall writing. In that email before I went to hospital, it featured Ralph, and how I wished it could have been Wednesday so I could see him as “he makes things so much better and that I feel safe with him”. This is where I realised that myself and others around may not necessarily see the physical impacts, but what is felt in the heart of those who he touches.

Ralph helped me before I became acutely unwell, and most importantly he assisted me in my recovery to wellness. Ralph is always present in my mind, such a gifted dog that I will not forget and will remain forever thankful for everything he did for me.

Many thanks Kristy and Ralph!