Cuddles with Harley a highlight for patients

There's a new furry face at Mater Private Hospital Springfield and he's a big hit with patients, staff and visitors.

Two-year-old Harley is a soft coated Wheaten Terrier companion dog and visits the hospital every Tuesday with his handler Colleen Roberts, brightening the days of sick people.

Colleen said the reaction from patients has been heart-warming.

"Harley loves to be around people and we've had really good feedback from the patients and staff here," she said.

"We had one elderly patient who just started crying when she saw him in the hallway - she grew up on a farm and hadn't touched an animal in four years."

Colleen, who bought Harley as her personal pet, said she decided to start giving up her time at Mater in Springfield six weeks ago after seeing an ad on Seek looking for more volunteers.

"We got Harley in the middle of the pandemic and we completed his puppy school over the internet," she laughed.

"He has done intermediate training and passed the courses to be able to be in the hospital.

"We visit all of the wards for two hours each week and I've taught him to shake hands and to gently put one foot on the side of the bed so the patients can pat him.

"I love being with Harley."

Colleen said she's thoroughly enjoyed the experience so far.

"I’m an ex-military veteran and I was in the military for 23 years," she said.

"I’m retired now and this is an outlet that I get to share with Harley, plus I like helping people."

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