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Alex and Pepper – Kingsley’s winning double act!

She’s nearly 13 with arthritic hips.

But black Labrador Pepper has had a remarkable new lease of life in the past year as a pet therapy dog in care homes.

She is making her debut in Kingsley Healthcare’s East Anglia homes with her owner Alex Bragg who has joined the company as an operations manager.

Alex, 31, said: “Pepper used to be my mother-in-law’s dog but in her later years she was just sleeping all day.

“I started taking her into care homes in my last job and she runs around like a puppy again when she arrives in a new place.

“She is particularly good with distressed or withdrawn dementia residents. She will sit with them and you get interaction you would not get otherwise.

“I will often find her lying down in a resident’s room next to the bed.”

Alex, who has taken oversight of six Kingsley homes, said visiting families were often impressed to see a dog as it created a homely atmosphere.

“A lot of residents would have had dogs or other pets throughout their life,” he said.

Alex studied engineering at college and his first contact with care homes was when he got a part-time job as a pot washer.

He said: “I hated engineering but enjoyed being around elderly people. That’s why I chose to make it my career.”

Over 14 years he said he had done every possible job in a care home, progressing through the ranks to become a home manager, “troubleshooting” peripatetic manager and, most recently, a regional manager.

“My particularly specialisms are palliative and challenging dementia care and I am also a qualified trainer,” he said.

Alex is pictured with Kathleen Greaves, a resident at Colne House, in Essex.

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