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Foxy Lady helps Norfolk addicts

PUBLISHED: 06:30 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:05 02 July 2010

Stephen Pullinger

People with addiction problems attending counselling sessions in Great Yarmouth have found their spirits lifted of late by a foxy lady...Foxy Lady the Parson Russell terrier that is.

People with addiction problems attending counselling sessions in Great Yarmouth have found their spirits lifted of late by a foxy lady...Foxy Lady the Parson Russell terrier that is.

Sonya Farrell, a counsellor at the Norfolk-based charity Norcas, came up with the idea of bringing her pet to sessions last year as a way of breaking the ice with clients.

Foxy, one of 4,500 PAT dogs nationally registered with the charity Pets As Therapy, has since proved so popular that some people now even phone the North Quay offices to check she is there for their appointment before they attend.

Ms Farrell said: “Foxy Lady provides unconditional love which is something missing in some of our clients' lives. Service users often have trust issues and find it a great comfort to have an animal close to them and tend to let their barriers down and relax easily with her in the room.”

Richard Bergson, team leader for the charity, which helps people with both drug and alcohol addiction problems, said: “Clients sometimes have quite difficult things to talk about and are seemingly put at ease by Foxy.

“If a client becomes emotional, Foxy will move closer to them and they invariably reach out for her.”

He said in the longer term, the idea of introducing PAT dogs to the charity's other offices in Norwich, Cromer, Ipswich and Lowestoft might be considered.

Across the country, 130,000 people a week benefit from Pets As Therapy which aims to bring comfort, companionship and therapy to people in such establishments as hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, day care centres and special needs schools.

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