The dog Jasper, mascot of the NHS caregivers in England, named animal of the year 2021

Like every year, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) rewards the little beast judged to be the most deserving. The lucky one elected in 2021 is named Jasper, honored for his support to the staff of Lancashire hospitals in England.

He is six years old, a cream-apricot-colored poodle and cocker spaniel cross. Normally, he cares for patients, mainly stroke victims and people at the end of their life. Its owner, David Anderson, has trained it especially to take care of the sick, reach out to those who cry, comfort them, allow themselves to be caressed, manipulate, do what is called emotional support. Jasper had been doing this every week for years. And then in 2020, the Covid-19 arrived, and contact with patients was prohibited. But after a few weeks, it was the caregivers who asked to see him.

“The role of Jasper, explains his master to the newspaper The Independent, it’s always been about making people smile and making them feel better. However, during the pandemic, when front-line personnel gave so much, some felt the need to have a moment of pause with him, of complicity, of comfort, before returning to the front. “ He adds that caregivers told him he cried while taking Jasper in their arms. The animal does not judge. Whether you walk around with him or just sit back and enjoy the moment, you can show him your emotions, be yourself, it doesn’t open debate or criticism.

For a year now, the dog has been visiting NHS staff, some of whom are tired, exhausted, with a feeling of abandonment after many months of applause. Jasper doesn’t play politics, he doesn’t advance negotiations on the budget, wages, time off, but he can claim to have been what a nurse calls “a source of light in the darkness of the crisis, she declares to Daily Mail. The one that allows us to continue when we think we are breaking down. “ On Tuesday, he was therefore awarded the animal of the year 2021 prize, during a ceremony in the House of Lords, in front of some of the 1,000 caregivers he has accompanied and still accompanies. Jasper, or the story of the dog who brings a little humanity.

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