SHEILA Moody lives in an isolated village in the beautiful countryside outside Durham City.

There is no public transport and due to her physical health, she isn’t able to get out of the house by herself.

Her husband sadly passed away three years ago and her daughter lives in Wales, visiting every other weekend and taking Sheila on holiday. But this still means that Sheila could potentially spend two weeks without seeing anyone, if no friends or neighbours were to pop by.

Sheila has had dogs all her life. As a child in London, she was taken to and from school by her dog Bernard, as her mum was working.

As an adult, having moved to the North-East, Sheila and her husband would take their dogs for trips to the coast at nearby Blackhall Rocks and now she's found someone to take her there – with a dog in tow – to relive those happy memories.

Her new and very welcome companions are Diane Snowsill and her rescue lurcher Eddie, who have been Sheila's good friends for the past two years.

Diane and Eddie were the first Visiting Wag Team, working for Wag & Company, the only dog charity to visit people in their own homes. Their aim is to reduce loneliness in older dog lovers in the region by enabling professionally assessed volunteers and dogs to visit them. This service befriends older people both in care or medical facilities and, unique to the North-East, those still living in their own homes.

After Sheila’s last dog Toby, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, passed away, she wasn’t able to look after her own dog any more; now she shares Eddie. She was referred to the charity in 2016 by Age UK County Durham, and the rest is history.

Eddie is almost 11 and a quiet, timid boy. Diane adopted Eddie in 2008 from StrayAid so she doesn’t know his background, but he’s gentle and cuddly and flew through his Wag assessment. Diane and Eddie visit Sheila each week, and Eddie loves to snuggle up for cuddles, biscuits and the freshly cooked chicken that Sheila prepares especially for him.

“I really enjoy visiting Sheila and seeing the joy that Eddie brings to her," says Diane. "She’s originally from London, as was my mum. We lost my mum eight years ago and Sheila really reminds me of her, so it brings me great comfort too.

“Sheila is amazing. She used to run a pub and has some brilliant stories, as well as some strong opinions. Eddie loves her, too. He’s usually quite timid, but as soon as he saw Sheila he was visibly calm and he enjoys cuddling up to her for fuss and treats.”

Sheila is a keen knitter, making woollen hats for premature babies at Sunderland Hospital, and has made a contribution to Wag & Company in the form of knitted bobble hats that were sold at last year’s Walk for Wag at Kielder Water. Sheila was invited to be the starter for the walk, a lovely day out that raised over £13,000 and she’s looking forward to doing it all again this year too.

“I look forward to seeing Diane and Eddie each week," she says. "I think Diane probably does far more for me than she should, but it’s honestly appreciated so much. I don’t see many people; Diane and Eddie brighten my life and have made such a huge difference.”

The relationship between Diane, Sheila and Eddie is just one of many wonderful examples of the friendships that Wag & Company is enabling. There are many lonely pensioners who miss their friends, two-legged and four-legged; with Wag & Company they get both, says the charity. There is a proven correlation between loneliness and frailty, and it’s vital for the health of the elderly that loneliness is reduced.

  • The charity launched in May 2016 and now has almost 200 volunteers - Visiting Wag Teams - with plans to expand.
  • If you would like to get involved, visit