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Ralph the one-eyed rescue dog helps at Harmonia dementia village in Dover

A one-eyed rescue dog is proving a popular addition in Britain's first dementia village.

Ralph has become such a hit he has his own Twitter account and has been receiving fan mail.

Ralph has his own Twitter account. Picture: East Kent Hospitals
Ralph has his own Twitter account. Picture: East Kent Hospitals

He will be used at Harmonia Village in Dover for residents' therapy and exercise.

Ralph, all the way from Romania, is now owned by site deputy manager Katie Faulkner.

She said: “He spent two years on the streets of Romania and was brought over here to live with a family but they backed out at the last minute.

“He then spent a year in kennels because no one wanted him because of his eye.

“I'd seen a few rescue dogs but none had really been right, and as soon as I saw Ralph I knew he would be coming home with me.

Ralph and owner Katie Faulkner. Picture: East Kent Hospitals
Ralph and owner Katie Faulkner. Picture: East Kent Hospitals

“He is just the sweetest boy and it melts my heart to see how people react to him.”

Harmonia Village, at Randolph Road, is due to open this spring but already has community groups using it.

Ralph has become one of the welcoming committee.

Ms Faulkner said: "Eventually we would like to train him as a Pets As Therapy dog and he’s certainly got the right temperament.

“The ladies who come in for the groups light up when they see him and he brings such joy to the village.

“This time last year he was living in kennels and had never been loved, and now he has such a special role at Harmonia and he’s adored by everyone he meets.”

The new arrival is primed to welcome visitors. Picture: East Kent Hospitals
The new arrival is primed to welcome visitors. Picture: East Kent Hospitals

Ralph's job is to provide emotional support and encourage people to stay physically active.

Ms Faulkner said: "My background is in physiotherapy and I think Ralph will really help with that.

"Taking him for a walk is much more appealing than giving someone exercises to do.

"It’s already working with the staff, and often if people feel stressed they will grab his lead and take him out and they always feel better when they get back.

"Pets will be a big part of life at the village, because our ethos is that our houses are people’s homes and I’m delighted Ralph is paving the way."

Ralph helped welcome a Japanese film crew this week, when they visited the village to film for Fuji TV’s flagship current affairs programme Mr Sunday.

Ralph relaxing in Harmonia village. Picture: East Kent Hospitals
Ralph relaxing in Harmonia village. Picture: East Kent Hospitals

And visitors will be able to look around the site at the fourth and final open day next Tuesday from 9am until 3pm.

Harmonia Village, a £3.5 million project, is the UK's first purpose-built centre for people with dementia.

It is behind the present Buckland Hospital and has six five-bedroomed houses for residents.

The centre has a main building as a hub with a café and regular activities for residents and the wider community.

The project is on land owned by by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

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