Adrian Ashworth set up the organisation Therapy Huskies after noticing his pet Thunder had been behaving differently around his dad Alan around the time he was diagnosed with dementia.
He said the behaviour was so unique and noticeable that he wanted to see what else he could do with his dogs.
Adrian then went on to set up Therapy Huskies which is made up of his four Siberian huskies, which are specifically trained to help with end of life, autism, bereavement and more.
The four pooches Stormy, Thunder, Thor and Binny-Boo now travel across Barnsley and the UK to care homes, community groups, hospices and other venues to give support and affection.
“We started working with BIADS (Barnsley Independent Alzheimer’s And Dementia Support), bringing the dogs to sessions there,” said Adrian, of Pogmoor.
“The people there loved having the huskies and they are different with people with dementia. They ease anxiety and worry. From there we starting working with other people and other causes.
“It’s nice to do things like this and one of the dogs does end of life support.
“They are so well behaved and we can’t go anywhere without people stopping us.”
The organisation is run on funds from people they visit but they also make free trips to hospices and other locations for end of life support, so Adrian and the dogs do rely on public funding to help Therapy Dogs keep going.
“It’s something we do that we don’t really publicise too much because it isn’t always a happy ending,” said Adrian, of Pogmoor.
“Sometimes the people we visit die and that’s not nice, but the huskies may have brought them some comfort.
“Some of the people we visit can’t pay but we go anyway because we want them to have something nice and to bring them a bit of happiness. We currently do this ourselves which is one of the reasons my wife works full-time.”
Liz Baldwin, of Athersley North, is a carer for her son Ben Fyfield, who can’t use his legs, cannot move his left side and also has other medical issues, including cerebral palsy, learning difficulties and Dravet syndrome (a rare, lifelong form of epilepsy).
Liz said life for Ben, 27, changed after she saw a leaflet for Therapy Huskies and they became involved in his care plan. Thunder and Adrian visit every month and according to Liz, the husky has made a ‘massive difference’ to Ben’s life.
“I cannot thank Adrian enough for bringing Thunder into our lives,” said Liz. “He has been a huge benefit to Ben and he absolutely loves him.
“In his last session with Thunder, Ben sat up on his own and used his left arm as well.”
For more information about Therapy Huskies, visit therapyhuskies.co.uk.