Deaf bulldog George Wilson brings joy to Port Kembla Hospital's palliative care ward

Puppy love: Port Kembla Hospital palliative care patient Anna McCarthy got a kiss from George Wilson during his Friday visit while daughter Melissa Sergeant and nurse Tammy Kinlyside looked on. Pictures: Adam McLean
Puppy love: Port Kembla Hospital palliative care patient Anna McCarthy got a kiss from George Wilson during his Friday visit while daughter Melissa Sergeant and nurse Tammy Kinlyside looked on. Pictures: Adam McLean

When Jai Wilson's dad lost his battle with cancer, she bought a puppy to help her with her grief, and named him in her father's honour.

Three years on George Wilson the English bulldog comforts others grappling with heartache and anguish during his weekly visits to Port Kembla Hospital's palliative care ward.

The big softie is deaf and has no training as a therapy dog, but Ms Wilson said he just seems to have a sixth sense when someone's unwell and needs cheering up.

"He was great for me when I was dealing with grief and loneliness after my dad's death," she said. "Then one day we were walking down near Lake Illawarra and there was a family there having a picnic - George just went and joined them and didn't want to leave.

"They told me there'd bought their loved one, who was in palliative care, down to the lake for an outing. And George just made their day.

"I knew how wonderful staff were in palliative care because they'd cared for my mum and dad, and I'd been well looked after when I had pancreatic cancer nine years ago, so I wanted to give something back.

"And that something turned out to be George Wilson."

On Friday, the dog's power to bring light and joy to those in palliative care, and their families, was clear to see at the Port Kembla unit.

Let off leash, he strutted down the corridor, sticking his snout in each room to see if there was anyone inside in need of some puppy love.

The first one to benefit was patient Anna McCarthy, who got a surprise when the 42kg dog walked through the door, jumped on the bed and gave her a big kiss.

"I love animals," she said. "I've wanted another dog for years but life gets in the way, so it's really nice to get a visit from this beautiful dog."

Totally pawsome: Ken Chadwick was cheered by the sight of the white bulldog in his custom-fit Hawaiian shirt.

Totally pawsome: Ken Chadwick was cheered by the sight of the white bulldog in his custom-fit Hawaiian shirt.

Another patient, Ken Chadwick, is battling aggressive brain cancer but was cheered by the sight of the white bulldog in his custom-fit Hawaiian shirt. "He's terrific," he said. "Dogs are wonderful creatures, all they ask of you is your time."

Palliative care staff specialist Dr Greg Barclay said there was a special connection between dogs and humans, and he'd seen many patients buoyed by a visit from a four-legged friend.

"People want to pat dogs, to be comforted by that interaction with a pet - it's no accident they have pets as therapy," he said.

George has become the face of his owner's charity, Deaf Dogs Rescue Australia, and he's also the mascot for Dreams 2 Live 4, which grants wishes for patients with metastatic cancer.

"Through his Instagram page (which has 10,000 followers) he helps raise awareness of different cancers, and the symptoms people should look for," Ms Wilson said.

Subscribe to our newsletters for breaking news alerts and more

This story Deaf bulldog George Wilson brings joy to palliative care ward first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.