Rescued canine Ziggy is ready to bring joy to patients after qualifying as a ‘Pat’ dog
- Credit: Archant
Little more than a year ago Ziggy was facing certain death in a Spanish pound after being found starving on the streets of Malaga.
But now the three-year-old dog has his paws firmly on top of the world after being rescued and starting a new life in Norwich.
And the lovable pooch, who is either a runt or a cross between a Spanish podenco and a terrier, has just qualified as a pets-as-therapy (Pat) dog, which means he will pay visits to people who have acute mental health problems and dementia.
Ziggy was adopted by Dawn Collins, a psychiatrist who lives in central Norwich, a few weeks after he arrived in the UK in May last year.
Dr Collins, 49, said the canine's journey had been nothing short of remarkable.
She said: 'Ziggy was a stray street dog, starving and probably thrown out as a failed hunting puppy. He was taken to a Spanish Finca - basically a pound for stray dogs - and he was next in line to be shot.'
Ziggy was found by a charity called last Chance Animal Rescue, which has links to Norfolk-based charity Super Sighthound Rescue, which brought him to the UK.
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Dr Collins said: 'When he arrived, he was frightened of everything, especially men, cars and loud noises.
'Since then, he has transformed into a happy, healthy, if slightly chubby dog who adores people.'
Dr Collins said Ziggy would bring a lot of happiness to patients across the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust area.
She said: 'I have seen the positive effect that animals have on people's mental health and distress levels.
'People who have animals report less loneliness, tend to be physically fitter and have less heart disease - probably because they walk more.'
Dr Collins said owning a dog might also be connected to oxytocin release - related to bonding and affection - and natural endorphins.
She said: 'Also, dogs are good for the immune system, and this is related to theories of over clean environments and increasing autoimmune conditions. 'Dogs are cheerful - and this seems to make humans cheerful too.'
To register interest in adopting a rescued dog or find out more about the charity, visit www.supersighthounds.co.uk