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Patient Ruby Staples, aged 8 with Halla the Jack Russell (photo credit: Royal Hobart Hospital)

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Greg Ray (author) and Jenny Miller (illustrator) with one of their books (photo credit: James Brodribb)

Two unlikely furry friends paid a surprise visit to children in the Royal Hobart Hospital’s paediatric ward today in the lead up to Christmas.

The Variety Book Monster and one of the hospital’s assisted therapy dogs, Halla the Jack Russell Terrier, were there to deliver to each and every patient on the ward a quirky children’s book about dogs, written by local author Greg Ray, in the hope of spreading Christmas cheer. 

The donated books, titled “Why Dogs Don’t Bark at Santa”, were illustrated by local Jenny Miller and follows on from the release of two others in the series, “Why Dogs Chase Cats” and “Why Dogs Circle to Lie Down.” 

The books have been gifted as part of Variety Tasmania’s annual Christmas visit to the paediatric ward of the Royal Hobart Hospital this year along with plush Christmas teddy bears for each child.

The Royal Hobart Hospital Paediatric Unit treated over 2800 in the past year, with an additional 15500 appointments in their outpatient clinic.

Variety has long supported the Royal Hobart Hospital, donating over $100,000 to the refurbishment of the Adolescent Unit in recent years in addition to its annual gift appeal.

Mr Ray said he hoped the books will bring joy and laughter to children in the ward this Christmas.

“As a grandfather of young ones, I can only imagine how difficult it must be for these young people to be away from their families and the comforts of home during the holiday season” Mr Ray said.

State Manager of Variety Tasmania, Luke Doyle said the longstanding relationship between the children’s charity and hospital is one he hoped would continue for years to come.

“Variety Tasmania is once again pleased to be able to bring some light to children staying in the paediatric ward over the festive season,” he said.

“This year the Variety Book Monster has gifted Christmas teddies and wonderful locally produced story books to brighten their day and share the Christmas spirit.”

Clinical Nurse Consultant Paediatrics, Trudi Steedman, said visits like this played a big part in raising the morale and spirits of patients and staff in the ward.

“We look forward to this visit every year and we are very grateful for the efforts and donations to the ward and to the individual children” she said.

To find out more about the many ways in which Variety Tasmania assists children in need across the State, including its Freedom, Future Kids and Caring and Smile Programs, visit http://www.variety.org.au/tas

To find out more about local children’s book author Greg Ray and the “Why Dogs…” series, visit http://www.whydogs.com.au