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That’s how Jacqueline Evans, an Occupational Therapy Assistant Practitioner describes Sabby, the recipient of the PDSA Order of Meritfor Outstanding Devotion. The Black Labrador from Lanarkshire enjoyed a distinguished 10-year career, working with people with learning difficulties both in hospital and in the community.
Born into the Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy programme, from birth she was earmarked for a service career. However, it was perhaps fate that the natural therapist failed as a guide dog and ended up on a different path. Jacqueline Evans certainly believes it was “their loss was definitely our gain”.
In her role as a therapy dog in a Learning Disability Occupational Therapy Service team, she worked with people with mobility problems, anxiety, phobias and myriad other issues. Warm, gentle and calm in stressful situations she developed special relationships with patients, helping them on their way to attaining new skills and confidence.
One of the most important roles within her job was to work alongside clinical psychologists to help patients who suffer from serious dog phobias. Her involvement was absolutely crucial in those people’s lives, and was recognised as a key factor in helping them better integrate into their communities.
The now retired Sabby received her Order of Merit for Outstanding Devotion award at a special ceremony in the Scottish Parliament no less. And, whilst enjoying her well-earned rest, she is greatly missed by staff and patients who will never forget her.
Born to be a guide dog, but destined to be a therapist Sabby’s a canine hero who found her true calling and never looked back.