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Poppy the pup provides therapy at REDHS

By Alex Gretgrix

THEY say laughter is the best medicine.

But what about a little chocolate labrador to brighten your day?

The staff and patients at Rochester and Elmore District Health have just that and are lucky enough to have employed Poppy, the hospital's trusty new therapy dog.

After years of bringing her other labs in, owner and REDHS acute assistant nurse unit manager Melissa Seelenmyer figured it was time to give her newest addition a try.

“We actually own Poppy's grandmother and aunty,” Ms Seelenmyer said.

“The residents and patients loved seeing our fat black lab at work and when we got Poppy about four weeks ago, someone asked if we could bring her in.”

Every Thursday and Friday, the little lab gets decked out in her volunteer bandana and is ready to put a smile on everyone's face.

“She would go to anyone,” she said.

“Sometimes she will go around to patients’ rooms to see them and other times she will spend lunch times with some of our staff members.”

Ms Seelenmyer said it was important, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, to stay positive.

“There are a lot of people who are struggling through this tough time,” she said.

“Patients and residents aren't allowed or simply don't have family and friends to come visit, so if Poppy can bring someone a bit of joy, I'm more than happy to bring her in.”

While she's at the facility, the pup can sometimes get up to a bit of mischief.

“She loves visiting residents at lunch time and cleaning up the food they drop under their tray tables,” Ms Seelenmyer said.

All in all, everyone at REDHS is happy to keep Poppy employed.

“I'll keep bringing her in until I'm told not to,” she said.

“She's just so lovable and I haven't heard a bad thing about her yet."