Labrador Louis put his best paw forward at the national NHS Parliamentary Awards in Westminster last week.
Louis is a Pets as Therapy (PAT) dog and works alongside a team of five other dogs, spreading joy and providing comfort to patients and staff at Queen Alexandra (QA) Hospital.
Louis and his fellow team member, Milly, also make regular visits to Petersfield Hospital, their hometown hospital.
The PAT team was nominated by Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt and Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage for The Volunteer Award at the NHS Parliamentary Awards.
Ms Mordaunt said: “The southeast Pets as Therapy do an incredible and much needed job!”
Only seven volunteer teams made the short-list, but it was Louis and his friends that took the (doggy) biscuit on Wednesday, July 5.
The award ceremony also coincided with the NHS’s 75th birthday.
Louis’ owner, Madeline Smythe, said: “We’d won anyway, just being on the short-list!”
Madeline trained Louis to be a PAT dog five years ago. Now seven, Louis loves his role more than ever.
In QA, a nurse asked Madeline if she would be happy to bring Louis to see a coma patient who had been unresponsive for a long time. The nurse lifted the man’s hand to stroke Louis’ head, and the patient immediately came round.
Madeline said: “The nurse burst into tears when it happened. It’s just amazing the affinity the dogs have with people.”
Madeline wanted to make it clear that it’s Louis and the other dogs that do all the work – she’s just the chauffeur.
She added: “Louis breaks barriers, he puts people at ease and helps takes their mind off what’s happening.”
Madeline said the awards in Westminster were very humbling. She and the other owners never expected to win in such prestigious company.
A spokesperson for the Pets As Therapy team at Queen Alexandra Hospital said: “It is an honour and a privilege to be the regional finalist and it is amazing to know that staff and patients appreciate us.
“We love bringing smiles to patients who may be going through a difficult time and staff and visitors. We are delighted to be acknowledged.”