Therapy dog survives cancer twice – now he’s helping sick patients with their recovery

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A therapy dog who has survived cancer twice is now helping fellow patients with their recovery.

Scruffy, a Border Collie Golden Retriever cross, volunteers for Pets As Therapy and is a regular visitor to Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester.

The 13-year-old pooch loves to give people the support and boost they need when undergoing their own treatment for various illnesses and conditions.

He meets patients from all walks of life, including those who have had operations and other medical procedures.

Some are sadly terminal but Scruffy knows exactly how gentle he needs to be.

He’s especially incredible because he’s survived cancer twice himself and suffers from a chronic kidney disease.

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Yet, he doesn’t think about himself, he just wants to make others happy and his owner, Gill Brownson, just loves to watch him put smiles on the patients’ faces.

She told TeamDogs : “His face, it speaks. And it’s amazing what the muscles in a face can do on a dog but he can really get across what he’s trying to say and he makes a lot of people laugh. Just while we’re walking down the road. He seems to express himself on what’s going on around him and it’s quite funny. It’s quite comical. He’s full of beans, full of life.”

Gill, from Altrincham, recalls a moment when Scruffy provided a distraction for a woman who they were visiting.

She said: “She was alone and there was no family with her. I knew this, so I bought her a teddy bear dog so that she could have something to cuddle and have with her.

“I strapped it to the back of Scruffy’s harness and we opened the curtain and let him go in and he waddled in with this on his back grinning.

“And I mean, all you could hear was laughter and that’s someone who’s nervous, someone alone, someone that’s going through major surgery and procedures. And it’s nice to hear the laughter.”

Scruffy the therapy dog who has survived cancer

Scruffy also visits hospices and dementia lunch clubs, spreading happiness as he goes. He is loved by children and adults alike who enjoy playing his favourite games with him like “find” where he sniffs out a treat that’s been hidden for him by a patient.

He’s been a therapy dog since he was two years old so he’s mastered the hustle and bustle of hospital wards.

Tiptoeing around machine wires with loud beeps of various machines doesn’t bother him either.

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Extremely attentive to patients who really enjoy his company, Scruffy is known to sit next to someone who needs a cuddle or lie down on their bed with them to give that extra bit of comfort at a tough and sometimes painful time.

When he’s not helping people here in the UK, he’s in Spain helping expats.

The pandemic has meant that Scruffy had to stop his duties as a therapy volunteer and he and Gill have both really missed it but are looking forward to chronicling their adventures to come on his Instagram page here.

Gill recognises the work put in by Scruffy and other therapy dogs. She said: “I marvel at what occurs in front of my eyes regularly. I really do. And it’s all the PAT (Pets As Therapy) dogs.”