IT HAS been five weeks since patients at St Stephen's Hospital have seen Raffa the therapy dog after he fell ill.

Now, he's back on board, coat and all and back bringing smiles to the faces of not just patients, but staff and visitors too.

"He just went right off his food for a while there," owner Sharon Walker said.

"He has a lame back leg so I think it's just old age catching up."

Mrs Walker and her husband John brought the seven-year-old groodle, golden retriever cross poodle, to St Stephen's Hospital a few years ago after previously living in Sydney and visiting patients through the Delta Therapy Dogs program.

Therapy dog Raffa with owner Sharon Walker.
Therapy dog Raffa with owner Sharon Walker. Alistair Brightman

"(Patients) see him and they think he looks like a giant teddy bear," Mrs Walker said. "He's very intuitive, very calm and quiet and that's his temperament all the time."

Mrs Walker said Raffa was a beloved member of the hospital community bringing happiness to those who may have owned a pet in the past or are missing theirs at home.


"I tend to talk to people about the dogs they used to have so I get happiness out of it as well as Raffa," she said.

"When he puts on his coat, he knows where he's going and when he walks through the doors of the hospital, his demeanour changes completely."

Mrs Walker and Raffa visited St Stephen's Hospital one day a week for about two hours.