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Dog Mon lives in hearts of children with cancer (Photos)

Madam Fleur De Mon Smithfield Bear jumps over and shakes her fur to make some room for herself – in the hearts of children who welcome her with a warm blanket and a caressing pair of hands.

The dog with this long aristocratic name, briefly known as Mon, has been working as a children’s therapy dog at the Plovdiv-based Paediatric Clinic for several years now and has been giving comfort and courage to the youngest patients battling cancer and other serious illnesses. This dog is also the face of the donation campaign aimed at raising funds for building a new children's clinic, as the current one is in a state of disrepair. Thanks to Mon, on the first day of the school year alone the students raised 3,400 leva, responding to the campaign message to donate money to the hospital instead of purchasing flowers for their teachers.

Helping to build a new children's hospital will improve the quality of the treatment”, says the dog owner Velislava Kostadinova. “Doctors need to work in the most up-to-date conditions and young patients need comfort during their stay in the clinic.

At the moment, the condition of the already outdated building is not good despite the repairs - the plumbing and electricity installations often get broken, the rooms are narrow, especially in the paediatric onco-haematology ward where children and their parents need to share a bed. In addition, children are required to be transported by ambulance to the second treatment facility for testing. However, this is a waste of time and the constant transportation does not impact positively the patients with more serious conditions. You know, there are potholes in the roads, there are traffic jams, and it is not appropriate for children or doctors to be torn apart between the two buildings every single day.”

So far, the campaign organized by the Saint George University Hospital in Plovdiv has raised 30 thousand leva from private donors. However, 10 million leva are needed to start the construction of the new building.

Mon and Velislava will not forget that Christmas when they accepted an invitation to spend the holiday with the children in the clinic. When the doctors saw the wonderful display of eternal friendship - happy children communicating with a well-intentioned dog, they invited them to start coming on a regular basis. In the meantime, Mon underwent a specialized training at a dog school and got certified as a therapy dog.

Children who can get up from their beds, come to the playroom, interact with the dog and play games”, Velislava explains about the visits. “The dog is extremely careful in playing with them because it understands that the children are sick and exhausted or that something hurts them. For those little patients who need to stay in bed or are unable to get up, we go to individual visits to their rooms. First of all, Mon soothes them, helps them to become more talkative, makes them feel relaxed, because more or less children are afraid and scared, they are also in pain. The dog helps children overcome these states of stress, pain, and anger, and they feel much better after a visit.”

The six-year-old Mon is just one of a group of Old English Sheepdogs (BobTails) who have been part of the life of their owner. “Even at home, we like to joke that the more bobtails we have, the happier we are”, Velislava says. The two have a strong bond and like to do everything together - they walk, play and even go to school since Mon is in the third grade.

“This is part of another program we do with Mon- on the dog's role in reducing child aggression in schools”,  Velislava explains. “Again, Mon's presence makes the children happier. Pupils help the dog with her homework and write their own alongside. They also help her learn her lines for the literary readings, but in fact they learn the words they need to recite. It's really fun - the kids are waiting for her impatiently and the classes pass by imperceptibly.”

Velislava and Mon perceive these visits to children as a personal mission. They also have a common profession - dreamers for a better life in which young people do not leave their own country because they find it a great place to live. Both fight for their dreams every day.

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