At just 20 months of age, Bert Evans may seem like a young pup on the wards of QEII Hospital, but make no mistake, QEII’s very own cravat-loving labradoodle is a veteran therapy dog.
Bert’s “Mum”, hospital Safety and Quality Administration Officer Megan Evans, said her fur baby had taken to his role spreading love and joy to QEII staff and patients like a duck to water.
“Bert has been coming in since he was a puppy to get used to all the hospital noises and has gone through most of his therapy dog training. He comes in most Fridays to visit staff around the hospital and just loves everyone.
“We do little tours of the Palliative Care ward, and he goes to Grand Rounds presentations with our Junior Doctors. He has also visited Outpatients Department a few times too. Usually he picks someone out of the crowd in the waiting room areas and gives them extra attention if he thinks they need it.”
Ms Evans said he was specifically selected for undertaking therapy work for his special temperament.
“A couple of years ago I got talking to the Clinical Nurse at Palliative Care and he asked me if I would be interested in training a dog to visit the palliative care ward. My last dog had passed away from old age and I thought yes, that’s something I’d like to do,” she said.
“Bert’s breeder knew I wanted to train my new puppy to be a therapy animal, so he was hand-picked by her as the best dog for the job from the litter. He is very laid-back and takes everything in his stride and is a bit of a character, which all sits very well for his role at QEII.”
Ms Evans said the response from staff to Bert had been overwhelmingly positive.
“It usually takes me about 20 minutes to get from the carpark to the office with all the pats he gets from colleagues and hospital visitors,” she said. “People love Bert. Even our Executive Director Adrianne Belchamber asked me how and where he was last Friday.”
Ms Evans said Bert was a great stress reliever for staff who were involved in delivering complex medical care.
“People relax around Bert. People love playing with him and he loves spending time with them. So many people tell me seeing Bert has made their day,” she said. “He’s also a great support for families who are visiting their loved ones in hospital.”
When coronavirus hit in April, like many Australians, Bert had to take temporary leave as strict social distancing measures came into force in Queensland; however, he has since returned to work.
“Bert came back to QEII in May and is just loving being back in the office again,” Ms Evans said. “For him, the hospital is his second home.”
To keep track of Bert’s latest adventures at QEII, follow him on Instagram: @belloui_bert_therapydood