Published on 19 February 2020
A one-eyed rescue dog from Romania is the newest recruit to the Harmonia Village at Dover team.
And Ralph is already proving a hit, with his own Twitter account and fan mail.
When he’s not welcoming visitors to the Harmonia Village, a ground-breaking community for people living with dementia, he lives with assistant manager Katie Faulkner, who said it was love at first sight when they met.
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.
“He is just the sweetest boy and it melts my heart to see how people react to him.”
While the village is preparing to open for residents, several community groups are already running activities in the village hub and Ralph has taken on the task of official welcoming committee.
Katie 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.”
Ralph’s job is not just providing emotional support – he will also help with people’s mobility and encourage everyone to stay active.
Katie said: “My background is in physiotherapy and I’m really keen on keeping people moving.
“I think Ralph will really help with that, because 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.
And visitors will be able to look around at the next open day on Tuesday, 25 February from 9am until 3pm.
For more information on the village, visit www.harmoniavillage.org.uk and to follow Ralph on Twitter search for @ralphtherescue.