Four-legged friend helps Lowestoft youngster overcome fears

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust help Lily overcome her fear of dogs. Photo is of Lily Dewbe

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust help Lily overcome her fear of dogs. Photo is of Lily Dewberry. Photo: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust - Credit: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

An eight-year-old girl has been awarded first prize in a creative competition after designing a poster showing the progress she has made towards overcoming her crippling fear of dogs

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust help Lily overcome her fear of dogs. Photo is of Lily Dewbe

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust help Lily overcome her fear of dogs. Photo is of Lily Dewberry. Photo: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust - Credit: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Lily Dewbery, who lives in Lowestoft, was so afraid of dogs that she once pushed her brother into a road to avoid one.

But after 12 weeks of support from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), she is now comfortable stroking German Shepherd Tula, who is a Pets as Therapy dog.

Lily was so pleased with her progress she drew a colourful poster showing herself saying 'I'm so brave' standing alongside Tula - which won first prize in a creative competition run by NSFT.

Lily's mother, Amanda Dewbery, said: 'Lily was referred to the Children, Family and Young Person Service because she has always suffered with anxiety.

'We were asked to choose one particular thing to work on which was affecting her life and decided her fear of dogs would be a really useful thing to tackle.

'She has always been absolutely terrified of them, and once pushed her brother into the road to avoid a dog on the way to school.

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'We spent 12 weeks working with NSFT, and did a lot of work talking about dogs and watching films before Tula was introduced.'

Initially Lily began by looking at Tula through a window before being able to be in the same room until eventually she was able to feed her by hand.

Ms Dewbery added: 'It was amazing and I am really proud of her. She pushed herself out of her comfort zone and, although she is still nervous around dogs, she is generally much calmer.'

Anita Guymer, Clinical Team administrator with NSFT, arranged the competition and is Tula's owner.

She said: 'Tula is amazing and never ceases to amaze me. She knows how to read individuals and treats everyone differently. I burst with pride when I see the difference she make.'

Lily was awarded a family day pass to the Water Lane Sports Centre, Lowestoft, along with a certificate and art materials for winning the competition.

The 10 most common phobias in the UK, according to a survey by Anxiety UK, are:

• social phobia – fear of interacting with other people

• agoraphobia – fear of open public spaces

• emetophobia – fear of vomiting

• erythrophobia – fear of blushing

• driving phobia – fear of driving

• hypochondria – fear of illness

• aerophobia – fear of flying

• arachnophobia – fear of spiders

• zoophobia – fear of animals

• claustrophobia – fear of confined spaces

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