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Owner of two-year-old working cocker spaniel donates pet’s award-winnings to Solent NHS Trust charity

Polly Knell, Interim Team Lead happily sat in chair with Cocker Spaniel, Casper in blue working outfit

A proud Community Children’s Nurse and owner of two-year-old working cocker spaniel named Casper has donated fifty percent of award winnings to Solent NHS Trust’s charity, Beacon on the pet’s behalf.

Casper has been a registered therapy dog since he was ten months old. Last month he was entered into a competition, by his owner, for his work during the pandemic.

Polly Knell is the Interim Team Lead for the Southampton based Community Children’s Nursing Team at Solent NHS Trust and she is also the proud owner of the adorable, Casper. The family introduced Casper as a small puppy to their home after her daughter Aimee was diagnosed with a rare eye condition. Aimee had taken a year out of university due to the diagnosis and dedicated this time to training him. She decided that his special qualities meant he should become a therapy dog so that other people could experience the joy he brings to life.

Casper was registered with a charity called Canine Concern which helps to provide therapy dogs to people in the community who need them most, including to people in schools and hospitals.

Speaking about some of the people Casper has provided therapy to, owner Polly said: “Our Community Children’s Nursing team have continued to deliver essential end of life care in the homes of Children, Young People and families throughout the pandemic. The team were involved in caring for a family who, unfortunately, had to have their dogs rehomed. As a team, we decided that it would be incredibly beneficial to this particular child and family to enable a visit from Casper. Casper visited the family at home a couple of times, and it was so lovely to see the child, his family and Casper together. They really enjoyed seeing him and stroking him - Casper’s got a lovely personality, he’s always full of joy.”

Casper has also visited the Community Children's Nursing team in Southampton, during the COVID-19 pandemic, to help enhance their wellbeing. Polly said, “Casper seems to have a bit of magic about him, so it was lovely for everyone in the team. Everybody is working so hard, and we’re all finding things a little harder because of COVID-19. Casper managed to make everybody smile.”

Earlier this week, Polly was contacted to say Casper’s story has won the Pets Corner competition. Casper was deservingly rewarded with a doggy hamper and £1000 to donate to any charities of Polly’s choice.

Polly and Casper will be donating £500 to Solent NHS Trust’s charity, Beacon, with the remaining money going to therapy dog charity, Canine Concern. The funds donated to Solent will be spent by the Community Children’s Nursing team on equipment to enhance care experiences for children.  

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