“It was a very special moment”: a patient in a hospice meets a guide dog puppy named after her – following her husband’s heartwarming gesture
A hospice patient met the guide dog puppy her husband sponsored and who secretly bears his name.
In May, Pete Harrison, 74, of Atherton, Wigan, sponsored the Golden Retriever Labrador cross puppy and named him his wife Glen.
Earlier this month, Pete arranged for Glen, 77, to meet his namesake at Wigan and Leigh Hospice.
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Glen, who suffers from motor neuron disease, spent an hour with the puppy, her husband and goddaughter Jayne in the hospice gardens.
“Her visit made a big difference – I wanted to be able to see her and I was so excited,” said Glen.
“Pete didn’t tell me what he did when he sponsored her – he just gave me an envelope that went through the door and was addressed to me with his birth certificate and a beautiful Photo.
“We’re supposed to wait until they’re a little older, but I just thought I’d better meet her now.
“I didn’t think I would be allowed to, but the hospice and the guide dogs arranged it with Pete and it was so nice. It made my day.
Glen worked in finance at Granada Television until his retirement in 1986.
She and Pete married in 1969 and celebrated their 52th birthday together.
Glen was diagnosed just three days before her golden wedding anniversary in 2019.
“She was getting sick and was diagnosed just before our birthday,” says Pete.
“We had a big party planned and stuff, but we just carried on and she danced the night away with her cane.
“Glen is bubbly, full of life and she always wants to dance.”
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Glen was admitted as impatient to Wigan hospice in August, but the couple are hoping she can return home soon.
“She came for end-of-life care, but we’re hoping for the best even though we’re prepared for the worst,” Paul admits.
“They will try to bring her home. She’s not totally dependent on ventilation so they’re going to reduce her and control her with medication, so hopefully if they can make her comfortable we can be home, that’s where Glen wants to be when she dies.
Speaking about the reasoning behind the puppy’s name after Glen, Pete said it was a loving tribute to his beloved wife.
“Before Glen came into the hospice and knowing she had a finite lifespan, I sponsored a guide dog puppy,” Pete said.
“As part of the package, you can choose the puppy’s name. My wife’s name is Glenise, but she always introduces herself by saying “My name is Glenise but I am known as” Glen “.
“From now on I know someone will say ‘her name is Glenise but she’s known as Glen’ for years to come – even when my Glen is gone it will keep that memory alive. I won’t be there to hear them say it, but I will know it’s happening.
Glen and Pete both said they donated money to good causes including Guide Dogs, Wigan and Leigh Hospice and Bolton Hospice for many years.
“We both feel like we want to do something for society,” says Pete.
“We both left money to a lot of charities in our wills, but I thought it would only go to the charity once it was gone and I would like it to see the difference, so why not do something while it’s still there?
“I contacted the Atherton branch of Guide Dogs who told me we can name a puppy, sponsor it for 12 months and as part of the package you get a photocopy of the birth certificate and you meet the puppy.”
People are usually not available to meet their sponsored puppy until they are at least 18 weeks old, but Pete has worked with Guide Dogs to make a special exception for Glen.
Diane Moore, Guide Dogs Community Fundraising, said: “Our visit to the hospice was one that we will not forget, and the joy of this first meeting between Glen and his namesake really made our day.
“Naming a puppy is such a wonderful gesture and we hope the Glen puppy will grow up to be a life changing partner for someone with low vision.”
At the age of two, Glen, the puppy should be paired with an owner.
Vicki McLoughlin, Clinical Director of Wigan and Leigh Hospice, added: “We know how important pets and animals are to our patients and we are always happy to welcome them here.
“Glen meeting Glen the puppy with her close family around was a very special time and we are grateful that the guide dogs were able to bring Glen here to the hospice.”
Before leaving, Glen told Glen the puppy, “I hope you have a long and happy life, my dear.”
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