Dottie’s Little Hog Hospital brings joy to Pilgrims Hospices Living Well therapy group

On 12 June 2024, the serene Therapy Centre at Pilgrims Hospices in Canterbury was filled with excitement and curiosity as we welcomed guest speaker Jo with some very special guests from Dottie’s Little Hog Hospital, which is based at Retreat into Wonderland in Herne Bay.

Our patients using the Wellbeing and Therapy Centre services were delighted to meet a variety of animals, including guinea pigs, an owl, and an impressively large tortoise named Dave.


The visit was part of our ongoing efforts to provide enriching and therapeutic experiences for our patients. Animals have a unique way of bringing comfort and joy, and this visit was no exception. The patients were particularly fascinated by the stories from the rescue centre in Herne Bay, where they specialise in the care and rehabilitation of hedgehogs.

The star of the day was undoubtedly Mumbles, a three-year-old barn owl whose majestic presence captivated everyone in the room. Alongside Mumbles were some adorable guinea pigs, Barry, Wednesday, and Morticia, who brought smiles and laughter with their antics.

Dave the tortoise was another highlight. His slow and steady demeanour provided a soothing presence, allowing patients to engage in gentle interaction. The combination of different animals offered a rich, multi-sensory experience that everyone enjoyed.

Our patients eagerly asked questions and shared their own stories about pets and wildlife. It was heart-warming to see how the presence of these animals sparked conversations and lifted spirits. Learning about the rescue work that is undertaken at Dottie’s Little Hog Hospital provided an additional layer of interest and connection.

This visit underscores the importance of animal-assisted therapy as part of the comprehensive care provided at Pilgrims Hospices. Such interactions are invaluable, not only for the joy they bring but also for the therapeutic benefits they offer. The smiles, the laughter, and the meaningful conversations that ensued are a testament to the positive impact of these visits.

Sharon Smith, Pilgrims Hospices Lead Wellbeing Practitioner, emphasises the value of group therapy: “This group allows members to offload and share experiences with like-minded people, find and make friends. It’s incredible to see how much our patients enjoy their weekly meetings. The connections and support they find here are essential to their overall wellbeing.”

We are grateful to Dottie’s Little Hog Hospital for their continued support and dedication to our patients. These moments of happiness and engagement are crucial for the well-being of our community, and we look forward to many more visits in the future.

For more information about Dottie’s Little Hog Hospital and their rescue work, please visit their Facebook page.

If you would like more information on services available at Pilgrims Hospices in Ashford, Canterbury and Thanet, or within the east Kent community, please contact our team. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of both people and animals.

Supporting Wellbeing at Pilgrims Hospices

Our Wellbeing Programme is free if you live in east Kent and you have been diagnosed with an incurable illness. It aims to enhance your wellbeing – in mind and body. Services are also available for carers – be they friends or family – to support them with self-care, too.

If you talk to us sooner, we can do so much more. Pilgrims Therapy Centres are an important part of the care and support we provide to our patients and their families. Our new Wellbeing Menu offers a range of therapeutic, creative, social and educational groups and activities designed to support you to live well, in both mind and body, for as long as possible.

Our experienced team will work closely with you, and those who are important to you, to help you identify which programmes can help you now and in the future. We will also work alongside your GP and other professionals involved in your care.

Pilgrims Hospices Therapy Centre and Living Well group continue to create a nurturing environment where patients can find joy, comfort and support. The recent visit from Dottie’s Hedgehog Hotel is just one example of the enriching experiences we strive to provide, ensuring our patients live well in both mind and body.


Each year, Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,500 people in east Kent who are coming to terms with an illness that sadly cannot be cured.  The charity supports patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress.