Paddington, our gentle giant, is named after the bear in the English children’s story. Like the lost teddy bear in the story, Paddington was found hungry and abandoned, under a street light in a village near here. He was about 3 months old and, with his fluffy puppy coat, his soft brown eyes and his very big paws, he looked like a teddy bear.
Paddington quickly won our hearts. He befriended the cat and has grown into a wonderful family dog, albeit a 100-pound one! He loves playing with puppies, rolling in mud, swimming and retrieving his ball. We think he is probably part Golden Retriever and part Chow but we’ll never really know.
In 2009, at the age of three, Paddington became an Ottawa Therapy Dog. He visits patients and special friends at St. Vincent's Hospital which is part of Bruyere Continuing Care. There are many challenges for a therapy dog working in a hospital and Paddington had a lot to learn. Some things, such as being patted by strangers in wheel chairs, came easily; others, such as automatic doors and glass elevators took some getting used to.
Every week Paddington gets dressed up in his special red collar and Therapy Dog scarf to go to work at the hospital. He exchanges greetings with parking lot staff, accepts compliments from admirers on his way across the Atrium, shakes paws (and hands) with his boss and then heads onto the floor to visit his patients.
He recognizes the names of the people he visits each week and can lead the way to each of their rooms. His big woolly tail sweeps back and forth as he accepts pats and greetings from patients and staff. Bed visits, where the dog climbs into bed with the patient, are very challenging for a dog of Paddington’s size who is not usually allowed on furniture. When he is coaxed into bed and snuggles up beside a favourite friend, staff gather in the doorway to watch.
Paddington shares some special moments with each of the people he visits. In many rooms, cards with his picture (which he presented on Valentines Day or Christmas) are still displayed on shelves or window sills.