The Wonderful Work of PAT Dogs
We all know how much pets enhance our wellbeing as they bring companionship, love and joy to us.
Pets As Therapy (PAT) is a charity that is very close to our hearts because we understand the positive effects pets can have on our lives.
Every year, one doggy volunteer is selected through a voting process to win the HiLife PAT Dog of the Year award. HiLife is very proud to have sponsored this award for more than 10 years and we feel it is very important that the great work that these kind and lovable pets do, is celebrated and rewarded.
We have been taking a closer look at some of the places a PAT dog might visit to find out how they bring joy and comfort to those they meet.
Lots of children find the presence of a dog relaxing and comforting. Read2Dogs is an innovative project, which helps to encourage children in a classroom setting, who find reading stressful or difficult.
A PAT dog and their owner will visit a classroom, with the teacher leading the session. The dog acts as a non-judgmental listener as the child reads aloud to them. Sessions are really relaxed and fun, which takes pressure off the children, giving them increased confidence when reading.
Over 6,000 children a week benefit from the experience of reading to a PAT dog, and the results have been incredible.
Many PAT dogs and their owners have an arrangement with a local organisation to visit residents on a regular basis.
Care homes, hospitals, day care centres and even prisons, have all benefitted from visits from PAT dogs. The dogs interact with the residents, lifting their spirits, bringing companionship and giving them something to look forward to.
One to one visits
Volunteers can even arrange to visit individuals in their own homes. This can be particularly beneficial to disabled or elderly people as it helps to combat loneliness and brings a regular ray of sunshine to their lives. It can be especially enjoyable if they have been pet owners in the past but are no longer able to care for an animal.
The time taken by these heroic hounds and their generous owners is no doubt invaluable in improving the lives of those they visit, and some PAT dogs and their owners have forged life long friendships through their volunteering.
Last year’s HiLife PAT Dog of the Year award went to a loving cockapoo Bilbo Baggins who, along with his owner Philippa Cadge, was a regular visitor at a respite home for children with disabilities. Although it only seems like five minutes ago since we presented Bilbo with his award, there are only a few weeks left before Crufts, where the winner of the 2017 award will be announced.
If you want to find out more about how your pooch can become a PAT Dog or the work they do, take a look at the website and don’t forget it’s not just dogs that can volunteer, our feline friends can also become PAT Cats!