Patient meets guide dog secretly named after her | TeamDogs
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Patient meets guide dog secretly named after her

Her husband wanted to make the tribute after she was diagnosed with motor neurone disease

Paul McAuley

Posted 57d ago

Pete and Glen with puppy raiser Sue Wright. Wigan & Leigh Hospice

Love can make us do crazy things and sometimes, just sometimes, it makes us do beautiful things and what one husband did for his wife is just that.

After celebrating 52 years together, Pete Harrison decided to expand their loving family and sponsor a guide dog puppy in the name of his wife.

Pete made the decision in tribute to Glen, a hospice patient who has now met her namesake in Wigan.

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The 77-year-old who has motor neurone disease, spent an hour with the pup, her husband and her goddaughter Jayne in the hospice gardens.

A former finance worker, they told Manchester Evening News: “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.”

The couple tied the knot in 1969 and unfortunately just a few days shy of their Golden Wedding anniversary in 2019, Glen was diagnosed.

Pete explained: “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.”

The 74-year-old added: “Glen is bubbly, full of life and she always wants to dance.”

Glen was admitted as an impatient at the Wigan hospice in August but the couple remains hopeful that she will be able to return home soon.

“She came in for end of life care but we are hoping for the best although we are prepared for the worst,” Pete admits.

“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.”

Speaking about the reasoning behind naming the puppy after Glen, Pete said it was a loving tribute to his beloved wife.

Glen Harrison and Sue Wright, a puppy raiser from Guide Dogs. Wigan & Leigh Hospice

“Before Glen came into the hospice and, knowing she had a limited life-span, I sponsored a Guide Dog puppy,” Pete recalled.

“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 said they have given money towards good causes including Guide Dogs and other Hospices over many years.

“We both feel like we want to do something for society,” Pete explains.

“We have both left money to many charities in our wills but I thought that I 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.”

People are usually only available to meet their sponsored pup when they are at least 18 weeks old, but Pete worked with Guide Dogs to make a special exception for Glen.

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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.”

By the time she is two years old Glen the puppy is expected to be matched with an owner.

Vicki McLoughlin, Clinical Director for Wigan and Leigh Hospice, added: “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.”

Before they left Glen told Glen the puppy: ‘I hope you have a long and happy life, darling.”

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