Rosedale Doodles: Cockapoo Puppy Alfie Becomes ‘Head of Happiness’

Rosedale Doodles Cockapoo Puppy Alfie Becomes Head of Happiness

Rosedale Doodles is a family-run dog breeder with over 40 years of experience. The business specialises in breeding Cockapoos, Cavapoos and Cavapoochons, with its dogs and puppies living in specially designed kennels with large fenced runs, providing a safe and natural environment for puppies to play and exercise throughout the day.

Alfie is a Cockapoo puppy bred by Rosedale Doodles in 2022. In July 2023, he completed his training as a therapy dog, receiving his official PAT dog status, and was recently appointed ‘Head of Happiness’ at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Alfie proved a big hit with the then Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when he met them at Clitheroe Community Hospital in January 2022, aged just nine weeks old. Today, he brings endless support and joy to patients, enabling care providers to reach people they otherwise would struggle to, paving the way for life-changing conversations.

Therapy dogs are trained to provide support, comfort and affection to people other than their owners. This may entail visits to places like hospices, hospitals, nursing homes, schools or even disaster areas.

Therapy dogs must have a warm and friendly disposition and be capable of interacting with a variety of people. Although the precise nature of their role will vary from dog to dog, therapy dogs are typically used to help improve patients’ mental health through engagement and socialisation. Therapy dogs are also engaged to aid physical rehabilitation by walking people through processes, helping them to recover certain physical skills, or to help learning disabled children to build confidence.

Humans have been leaning on their canine companions for thousands of years, with the origins of therapy pets lying in ancient Greece. More recently, Florence Nightingale put forward the concept of Animal Assisted Therapy in her Notes on Nursing, which was published in 1860, with the ‘Lady with the Lamp’ suggesting that a small pet ‘is often an excellent companion for the sick’.

Rachel Fielding is a chaplain and therapy dog practitioner at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. Reflecting on Alfie’s appointment as ‘Head of Happiness’ at the medical institution, she indicated that he engages in a variety of activities each day, participating in ‘Paws for Play’ time with colleagues to help them relax and responding to patient requests for a visit due to low mood, enriching the care provider family and enabling barriers to be crossed to help build trust with patients. Hospitals can be scary places, but as Rachel Fielding points out, Alfie brings the outside world in, helping people to feel individual and less isolated.