Therapy dog Hugo is a big hit at the Mercy

Therapy dog Hugo is a big hit at the Mercy
Nuala Coughlan, Clinical Nurse Manager of the Urgent Care Centre with Hugo outside the Mercy Hospital.

The Mercy University Hospital had a very special visitor when therapy dog Hugo visited a number of wards to say hello to patients and staff.

Nuala Coughlan, who is the Clinical Nurse Manager of the Urgent Care centre under the governance of the Mercy University Hospital, said it was amazing to see the reactions of the patients to Hugo.

“Hugo came in and visited 10 wards, he met with patients and staff and it was so uplifting. It was amazing, it would bring a tear to a stone.” 

Hugo is a fully trained therapy dog and will be working with therapists and people with Alzheimer's and Dementia helping them to improve their mobility and mood.

Nuala said she is in nursing almost 40 years and the sight of Hugo bonding with the patients was completely overwhelming.

“It was a huge success, It brought tears to patients' eyes and it is something we hope will become a regular occurrence.”

Nuala said the visit was part of the Mercy Celebration Week which is celebrating the foundation of the hospital 160 years ago by Sister Bridget McCauley.

Hugo is currently staying with his foster mom Kate Durrant who was with him when he visited the hospital.

“It was beautiful, it brought a great sense of normality to the environment. It made things pleasant and normal and that is hard to achieve in a hospital, in the clinical setting.” 

Speaking about being a foster mom to Hugo, Kate said it was the gift that kept on giving.

“We started fostering dogs when our own children left home. I suppose there was a gap there and you want to look after something and love something.” Kate said it was a great honour to be apart of the joy that Hugo brings to people’s lives.

“To be a small part of the joy Hugo brought to the patients and to people on a daily basis is a privilege.” 

Kate said when Hugo visited the hospital there was a nonverbal patient who walked with Hugo and the enormity of the act was beautiful to be a part of.

Hugo was trained by Dogs for the Disabled, which is a charity that is fully funded by the public.

It receives no Government funding and has 200 dogs in training and in service.

For more information on Dogs for the Disabled log onto

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