A THERAPY dog “with her own anxieties” is bringing smiles to the faces of patients with serious mental health problems.

Border Collie Twix and her owner, Sally Moorcroft, make weekly therapy visits to Glan Clwyd Hospital’s Ablett Psychiatric Unit.

Now Twix has been hailed for her impact on patients; the four-legged friend has been credited with lifting the mood and self-esteem of patients and increasing their willingness to engage with staff about their problems.

Sally described 11-year-old Twix as an “extraordinary little dog”.

She said: “She has the ability to recognise and respond to vulnerability in people.

“She has her own anxieties and she seems to recognise this in humans too. She has the ability to recognise when people aren’t happy.

“Most therapy dogs are stroked and that brings huge benefits to patients by lowering blood pressure, slowing heartbeat and releasing endorphins which make you feel good.

“Twix can also do tricks and play with balls which also gives patients a good work out.”

Sally, who is from Llysfaen, has been making visits to the unit for eight years.

She added: “She can act as a catalyst to bring patients out of their shell and begin to communicate with other staff and patients. Sometimes staff will tell us that following Twix’s visit a patient has spoken for the first time.

“It’s very humbling that this scrap of a dog who cost £25 can have such an amazing effect on so many people.

“I’ve met some fantastic people over the past few years. Just because people are in a psychiatric hospital it doesn’t mean they aren’t fascinating people who have led amazing lives.”

Sally, a former GP Practice manager in Conwy, and Twix were awarded the Stella Cup by dog show Crufts in recognition of their voluntary efforts.

Mandy Richards, occupational therapist, said: “She’s a special dog who is very sensitive to patients who are uncommunicative.

“We’re extremely grateful to Sally for the huge impact she and Twix have made through their weekly visits.”