JADEN Duff races down the hospital corridor to greet his visitor.

From the wide smile on his face, you wouldn’t know the five-year-old is in constant discomfort, his face heavily blistered by eczema. He wastes no time in getting down on the floor to cuddle Golden Retriever, Skye.

As a registered Therapet, it’s her job to cheer up young patients suffering from cancer and other illnesses at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.

It may be the first time a child has smiled since they were admitted to hospital according to nurses, who say Bert and Skye are, “treasured members of the hospital family.”

Staff stop to pat the six-year-old dog who remains calm as buzzers go off in the single rooms.

Jaden’s mum Jasmine Duff, 20, said: “He’s in and out of hospital a lot so he’s met her before and he just loves her.

“It’s hard when they are stuck in a hospital room.”

The Therapet service is run by the Canine Concert Scotland Trust, a charity, which also works with children and adults who have a phobia of dogs.

Skye’s owner Bert Muir, has been a volunteer for more than 11 years and this year received NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Chairman Award for his efforts.

As well as taking Skye into the children’s hospital every two weeks, Bert also takes her for therapeutic visits to patients being treated in mental health units at Gartnavel Royal and Stobhill hospitals.

Research is well established into the therapeutic benefits of pets. In particular dogs can reduce stress, anxiety and depression as well as easing loneliness and encouraging exercise.

Some studies have shown that someone who has already suffered a heart attack is much less likely to have another if they have a pet.

The only adverse incident that Therapet volunteers have had so far in hospitals is a dog sweeping a vase off a low table with a happy, wagging tail.

Bert, who is married to Pauline, has another Golden Retriever called Kirra and credits his pets for helping him recover from a serious illness.

“To me, it’s special here,” says Bert. “Every single child smiles from ear to ear. Everyone loves Skye, she’s very well known.

“In the beginning there was a bit of resistance from hospitals. Some of the senior staff weren’t so keen.

“It’s a support for the families too. Parents are often desperate to talk to someone. You get all the stories, they open their hearts.

“I’ve had Retrievers for 39 years. They are great dogs.

“The (dogs) have got to be really calm because there are all these buzzers going off in hospital. Obviously, they have to have all their jags too and the staff make sure that children wash their hands afterwards.

“A lot of kids are in here long term. If they have pets theselves at home, they miss the interaction with them.”

Karah Cawley, from Easterhouse, is being treated for a serious respiratory condition and has a tube in her throat to help her breathe. She tentatively strokes Skye and then visibly relaxes, enjoying this unexpected visit.

Carole Carney assists Bert and Skye on their visits to see sick youngsters as part of her volunteer work with Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.

“I do various things for the charity but this is the best job.” she says. “I’ve got a Labrador myself.

“Sometimes the children are so scared and it’s amazing how it transforms their mood.”

Jennifer Rodgers, Chief Nurse for paediatrics and neonates at NHSGGC, said: “Bert’s visits have a positive effect on the mood of our young patients and it’s sometimes the first time a child will smile since admission.

“When we ask what matters to our patients they often say they have pets at home that they are missing and that seeing Skye and Bert helps with that.

“Bert always has time for a wee chat with anyone he meets. They are treasured members of our hospital family.”

The service is currently looking for more volunteers. For more information go to www.canineconcern scotland.org.uk/therapet