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Why Stormzy the 'Buddy' dog really is a girl's best friend

13 May 2024 CHSW

When Josselin and her family visit CHSW’s Charlton Farm hospice they have a very special 4-legged visitor by their side.

Stormzy, the labrador retriever cross, is a constant at the side of Josselin, helping and supporting her every day.

5-year-old Stormzy, a ‘Buddy’ dog, initially came from Bristol Guide Dogs South West, getting his training at Redbridge Guide Dog School.

After passing his training with flying colours he went to live with a visually impaired man in Somerset.

When the man fell poorly, Stormzy was found a new role – with Josselin, 18, her brother Dalton, 12, and mum Karen at their home in Westbury, West Wiltshire.

“We had gone through the assessment process for a buddy dog and were waiting for a perfect match,” said Karen.

“And then Stormzy came along.”

Stormzy has been part of the family for the last 2 years and is a ‘best friend’ to Josselin who suffers from Charge Syndrome.

Josselin is also registered blind, is profoundly deaf and suffers with epilepsy. 

She is tube fed, has a cardiac pacemaker and relies on a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilator at night to help her breathe.

The family have been supported by CHSW since Josselin was just 20 months old.

Girl with buddy Guide Dog

"Stormzy really is a best friend to Josselin," said Karen.

“He walks next to her wheelchair and he can find ramps, flat bits of kerbs and knows commands such as turn left.

“He really is a lovely dog and loves children.”

Stormzy also accompanies Josselin to her hospital and other medical appointments.

“Josselin has had 36 operations and medical procedures over the years and has developed a real dislike of hospitals,” said Karen.

“Having Stormzy by her side really calms her. Whatever she is having done, he is next to her.

“He is a very important part of our family. He means the world to us.”

Stormzy, who also shares the family home with four cats, has also received accolades for his work as a buddy dog.

Last year he was named as the Guide Dogs UK ‘Hero Doggie of the Year’ for his support of Josselin.

Stormzy was presented with his special award at a glittering ceremony at Manchester Guide Dogs Centre.

He also picked up an impressive hamper of goodies for his canine efforts.

“Stormzy faced some real stiff competition,” said Karen.

“There were so many doggie entrants that had done amazing things.

The panel felt that Stormzy had made such an impact on Josselin’s life that he deserved to be the winner.

Karen, 43, said it was important that the whole family could be together at Charlton Farm.

“Stormzy is a very important member of the family,” said Karen.

“Not only for what he does for Josselin, but for the love he gives all of us.

“Coming to Charlton Farm gives us a chance as a family to truly relax.

“There are no alarms going off, no having to get up in the night and no having to worry about tube feeds or medication.

“The care team take that pressure completely away. It’s a chance for us all to recharge our batteries.
“Josselin’s brother Dalton loves it at the hospice. He says its once of his favourite places.

“Children’s Hospice South West has been incredible to us as a family. It has always been here to support us and take the pressure off.”

CHSW Charlton Farm operations lead Matt Norman said: "We love having dogs like Stormzy come to stay at Charlton Farm.

The dogs have a such a calming presence and are great for the wellbeing of everyone here, the children and young people (CYP) families and staff all benefit.

Children’s Hospice South West has been providing care and support to children with life limiting illnesses and their families in the South West for over 30 years.

The charity offers specialist palliative care and hospice care for the whole family, a sibling support for brothers and sisters, emergency support, end of life care and a bereavement service.