NHS dog with a gift for helping others

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A warm-hearted labrador has been awarded the PDSA Order of Merit for her work supporting Lanarkshire people with learning difficulties.

Thirteen-year-old Sabby (Sabbaka) has also helped people who until they met her were utterly terrified of all dogs.

Sabby retired last year after a distinguished ten-year career working with the NHS Lanarkshire Learning Disability Occupational Therapy Service team.

During that time she worked alongside Jacqueline Evans, an occupational therapy assistant practitioner, helping people with learning disabilities both in the community and the hospital.

Her warm and gentle nature helped her develop a special relationship with patients, allowing them to develop skills, make decisions and learn responsibilities - opportunities that without Sabby’s involvement would have been unavailable to them.

Sabby has also worked alongside clinical psychologists supporting patients who suffer from extreme dog phobias.

The PDSA says her involvement has been recognised as a key factor in helping these patients to become further integrated into their community.

Sabby’s work with the NHS Lanarkshire is reckoned an excellent example of the special relationship between human and animals.

Jacqueline Evans said: “After many years of devoted service, it is wonderful that Sabby’s skills and commitment to our patients have been recognised by PDSA.

“She is now enjoying her well-earned retirement and is greatly missed by all the patients and staff she has selflessly helped over the years.”