Inspirational Inca is in the running for a special canine award
- Credit: supplied by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
Four-legged friend Inca has helped to make a difference to countless patients lives, and now her owner is hoping the canine chum will be crowned top dog with a special national award.
Eight-year-old Inca is a much-loved Pets as Therapy (PAT) dog and for the last six years has been a regular visitor to many patients receiving care from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).
Her owner Sheena Scrimgeour, who lives in Hellesdon, has entered the Labrador/Staffy cross into the PAT Dog of the Year competition after receiving amazing comments from patients, relatives and staff about how much Inca has helped people. She is hoping Inca will beat hundreds of other dogs to be named as one of the final six who will be invited to next year's Crufts where the overall winner will be announced.
Miss Scrimgeour said: 'I've been really touched by the notes I've received from people who have benefitted from Inca's visits. It's fantastic to see – people often tell me they were about to ask for medication as they were feeling stressed, but no longer needed it when they saw Inca walk onto the ward.
'I met one lady whose daughter credits Inca with saving her life – she said she lived for her visits. I also received a beautiful story from a man in prison who said meeting Inca had changed his life.
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'She will simply stand alongside a patient and put her head on their lap – it seems to come to her quite naturally and she really seems to help people get through challenging times.'
Miss Scrimgeour and Inca visit Hellesdon Hospital on Mondays, The Julian Hospital on Tuesdays and the Norvic Clinic on Fridays, as well as fitting in regular visits to Hellesdon High School, a prison and the University of East Anglia.
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Carole Adam, who is the Pets as Therapy coordinator for Norfolk, said: 'Inca has a fantastic ability to empathise and communicate on a different level. She seems to hone in on people who are very vulnerable and give them a sense of worth and wellbeing.
'She has a real natural ability and it would be great to see her do well in the competition.'
NSFT chief executive Michael Scott said: 'Both Inca and Sheena are inspirational in the voluntary work they do for our patients, as are all of the PAT dogs and owners. Inca is definitely our top dog and we hope she will be Pat Dog of the Year too.'