A patient at Wigan and Leigh Hospice was all smiles as she met the Guide Dog puppy her husband secretly sponsored to ensure her name lives on.
Glen Harrison, 77, from Atherton, met the 16-week old golden retriever Labrador cross at the hospice where she was admitted as an inpatient on Tuesday, August 10, for end of life care.
Husband Pete Harrison, 74, sponsored the puppy and named her Glen as a surprise back in May then arranged for her to visit with her puppy raiser Sue on August 12.
Glen, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2019, spent an hour with the pup, her husband and her goddaughter Jayne in the hospice gardens.
Glen said: “Her visit has made a big difference – I wanted to be able to see her and I have been so excited. Pete didn’t tell me what he had done when he sponsored her – he just gave me an envelope that came through the door addressed to me with her birth certificate in it and a beautiful photograph.
“We’re supposed to wait until they are a bit older but I just thought I was better meeting her now. I didn’t think I would be allowed to but the hospice and the Guide Dogs have arranged it with Pete and it’s been so lovely. It’s made my day.”
Pete said: “Before Glen came into the hospice and, knowing she had a limited life-span, I sponsored a Guide Dog puppy. As part of the package you can choose the name of the puppy. My wife’s name is Glenise but she always introduces herself by saying ‘My name is Glenise but I’m known as ‘Glen’. From now on I know that someone will be saying ‘her name is Glenise but she’s known as Glen’ for years to come – even when my Glen is not here any longer it will keep that memory alive. I won’t be there to hear them say it but I will know it is happening.”
Both Glen and Pete, who have been married for 52 years, have given money towards good causes including Guide Dogs, Wigan and Leigh Hospice and Bolton Hospice over many years.
Pete said: “We both feel like we want to do something for society. We have both left money to many charities in our wills but I thought that will only go to the charity once she has gone and I’d like her to see the difference so why not do something while she’s still here? I contacted the Atherton branch of Guide Dogs who said we could name a puppy, sponsor it for 12 months and, as part of the package you get a photocopy of the birth certificate and you get to meet the puppy.”
Usually meetings with the sponsored dog take place once it is as least 18 weeks old but Guide Dogs made an exception once Pete explained his wife was going to the hospice.
Diane Moore, from Guide Dogs Community Fundraising, said: “Our visit to the hospice is one we won’t forget, and the joy in that initial meeting between Glen and her namesake really made our day. Naming a puppy after her is such a wonderful gesture and we hope puppy Glen will grow up to become a life-changing partner for a visually impaired person.”
Glen, who used to work in finance for Granada Television until her retirement in 1986, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease just three days before her Golden Wedding anniversary in 2019.
Pete said: “She had been getting ill and was diagnosed just before our anniversary. We had a big party planned and everything but we went ahead anyway and she was dancing all night using her walking stick. Glen is bubbly, full of life and she always wants to dance.”
A few weeks ago after her condition began to get worse Glen began to receive care from a Wigan and Leigh Hospice community nurse who recommended Glen go to the hospice. Glen and Pete had some good news the day before Glen the puppy visited to say that Glen may be able to go home.
Glen said: “It was getting harder and harder at home and I just thought I can’t carry on like this any longer.”
Pete added: “She came in for end of life care but we are hoping for the best although we are prepared for the worst. They are going to try to get her home. She’s not totally reliant on ventilation so they are going to reduce it and control it with medication so, hopefully if they can get her comfortable we can be at home, which is where Glen wants to be when she dies.”
Vicki McLoughlin, Clinical Director for Wigan and Leigh Hospice, said: “We know how important pets and animals are to our patients and are always happy to welcome them here. Glen meeting Glen the puppy with her close family around her was a very special moment and we are grateful that Guide Dogs were able to bring Glen here to the hospice.”
By the time she is two years old Glen the puppy is expected to be matched with an owner.
Before they left Glen told Glen the puppy: ‘I hope you have a long and happy life darling.”
Has this story moved you?
Please think about donating to Wigan and Leigh Hospice, who do so much to care for people with life limiting illnesses locally. Hospices like this are totally dependent on your donations, and it’s been tough for them to fundraise recently, so every penny counts. Sadly, you never know when someone you love might need them. Thank you.
If you’d like to find out more about sponsoring a puppy, visit the Guide Dogs website.