Visiting Wag Team Gemma and Bentley visit Lynn in Killingworth

Mrs Lynn Brennan was referred to us in August 2018 by her GP and also by St Oswald’s Hospice because of her severe arthritis; she has subsequently been diagnosed with chronic lung disease.

Lynn lives in her own home near Newcastle upon Tyne.  She lost her husband almost ten years ago and she misses him terribly.  Two years ago, she lost her beloved German Shepherd, Sasha, who she also “misses every single second of every day”.

When Lynn was referred to us, she was very depressed, lonely, taking anti depressants and receiving regular counselling.  Her limited mobility meant she was terribly isolated and she was waiting for an electric wheelchair for use around the home.  Lynn’s health means that she can’t have a dog of her own any more and even with the new wheelchair she still struggles to get out of the house alone which restricts her social life and her ability to integrate in the community.

Lynn’s anxiety and low mood and her physical vulnerability lead to a lack of confidence which also affects her ability to venture out.

Lynn heard about Wag & Company on the news and she knew we would be the perfect solution for her as she had never been without a dog and really missed spending time with one;  she also hoped she would find a new friend at the same time.

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Matching with Gemma and Bentley

Just over a month after her GP’s referral, we matched Lynn with Visiting Wag Team, Gemma Fowle and Bentley and they started visiting Lynn every Friday from October 2018.

Gemma is an Animal Welfare Officer for Northumberland County Council and, as part of her role, she regularly visits elderly people who are struggling to keep a dog and the dog is suffering or they have adopted a new dog and can’t cope because of their age and health conditions.

Gemma decided to volunteer with Wag & Company because of these experiences and now often tells clients she comes across at work about Wag & Company as an alternative to adopting a dog they can’t look after.

Friendship Dog Bentley, is a beautiful Springer Spaniel cross Border Collie and in 2012 he was found abandoned and tied to a tree in Plessey Woods on Valentines Day;  he was about 6 months old.  Bentley fell on all four paws when he was initially fostered and then adopted by Gemma. They are inseparable, Bentley goes to work with her every day and he also loves Lynn and his role as a Wag Friendship Dog.

Gemma and Bentley became firm friends with Lynn almost straight away.  They have a wonderful relationship and everyone feels so lucky to have each other. Gemma and Bentley take Lynn out for walks to the park getting her out for a change of scene.

Lynn used to receive weekly counselling to help with her low mood but because of her new friends she doesn’t feel she needs it anymore.

Lynn tells us what a difference they’ve made: “Their visits are the best thing ever. Bentley is simply the best, I fell in love with him instantly. I love dogs and I can't have another dog because of my health, so this has been great for me. I look forward to seeing Gemma and Bentley every week and I'm very lucky and privileged to have them in my life now. This is a great service for people like me. Wag & Company have saved my life, a million ‘thank yous’ Wag & Company, I can't thank you enough!”.

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Visiting Wag Teams make a huge difference to the lives of bereaved and isolated older dog lovers in our communities and it only takes an hour or two of your time most weeks…