A YEAR after she was abandoned in a frozen dustbin in Romania, an adorable little mongrel has made her debut as a therapy dog – by bringing Christmas comfort to children at a hospice.

Madi has found a loving home with a North-East family after she was dumped amongst the rubbish in the Romanian town of Targu Neamt, last winter.

She was found to have such a kind nature that her owners, Maaz Rahman and Nicci Knight, decided to have her trained to serve with a national charity called Pets As Therapy (PAT).

And, after passing her assessment with flying colours, Madi has now performed her first official duty as a therapy dog by visiting sick youngsters at Butterwick Hospice Care, at Stockton.

“Despite everything she’s gone through herself, Madi’s got so much love to give, so we thought this was the perfect way to spread the happiness that she’s brought into our lives,” said Nicci.

“She’s so caring and gentle that we quickly realised she would make the ideal therapy dog.”

Madi, and five other newborn puppies, spent four days in a lorry, travelling 1,700 miles to reach the UK, after a dramatic rescue mission was launched by a charity called Dogs In Distress.

The pups were all found homes in the North-East, and Madi quickly settled into her new life with Maaz and Nicci, and their four children, in the pretty village of Newby, near Middlesbrough.

The couple run Zizu’s Nursery, in Middlesbrough, so Madi has also been making lots of new friends amongst the children there.

During her visit to Butterwick Hospice Care, Madi spent more than an hour bringing Christmas cheer to a 14-year-old patient, called Alfie, who has complex health needs, requiring 24-hour care.

Alfie, from Darlington, comes into the hospice for two nights a month, so his parents can have a break.

And care staff described it as “magical” when Madi jumped up onto Alfie’s bed, laid down beside him, and snuggled up for strokes – just as “The Power of Love” played on a compilation of Christmas songs in the background.

The puppy love then continued when Madi turned her attention to another young patient, 18-year-old Lottie, who also has multiple care needs.

Molly Piggott, clinical lead at the hospice, said: “Being around animals brings a lot of joy and comfort to our children, and Madi has the best possible temperament. She’s gorgeous and it’s amazing to see how much pleasure Alfie and Lottie have got from being close to her – it’s made their day.”

Maaz and Nicci now plan to follow up the hospice visit by taking Madi into care homes, hospitals, special schools, and other charities.

“With the hospice visit being Madi’s first official duty as a therapy dog, we were a little bit nervous about how she’d react, but it’s been incredibly special to see how much joy she’s been able to bring.”