Who will be your HiLife PAT Dog of the Year?
We are very excited to announce that the shortlist for the much-coveted HiLife Pets as Therapy (PAT) Dog of the Year award has been unveiled, with six loveable dogs from across the country making the cut.
Each year, HiLife supports the awards of this special charity, which sees these clever canines making special visits to schools, hospitals, care homes and other locations to spread joy and companionship to everyone they encounter.
Every year, the PAT Dog team has the tough job of whittling down hundreds of applicants to a shortlist of six. Find out all about this year’s finalists below, and don’t forget to vote for your favourite by following the link at the end.
Ava, a German Shepherd, owned by Nicola Bryant
Ava visits several different places in her work as a PAT Dog, including a refuge, a school and a Beavers group. Children at the Changing Pathways refuge in Essex play with Ava, and a parent said “Ava makes us feel calm and happy and we can see how much the children love her.” A child from Eversley Primary and Merrylands School, where Ava has been a regular face for several years, said “Ava makes my worries go away.”
Bella, a Border Terrier, owned by Pamela Coombs
Bella also visits many locations, including a care home, hospital, school and special needs pupils. Consett Academy says “Her undivided attention is moving and inspirational. It’s incredible seeing the effect she has on students.” Freeman Hospital says, “Bella reaches the hearts and minds of our patients.” One man, watching his wife with dementia laughing and smiling during a visit with Bella, said, “This is the lady I fell in love with.”
Evie, a Labrador, owned by Alexandra Hughes
Evie also does the rounds at several local sites, and has been a PAT Dog for seven years. Her regular visits include a stroke ward, a care home and a centre for adults with learning difficulties. Evie has also recently helped a young girl with an acute fear of dogs as part of her phobia work. The manager of the centre for learning difficulties says, “Evie really brightens everyone’s day. She is a credit to her owner and we hope they visit for many years.”
Inca, a Labrador-Staffie, owned by Sheena Scrimgeour
“Inca is the best thing in the world” and “I can’t wait for Inca to come”, say patients at Hellesdon Hospital, one of many settings visited by Inca. Staff at the hospital say patients have claimed “Inca has helped save their life”, and the hospital Chaplain said “you can feel her presence in your heart.” Inca’s other regular visits include universities, schools, dementia cafes, a prison and other hospitals.
Leyan, a Great Dane, owned by Diana Barnes
Leyan has been a PAT Dog for nine years, starting out when she was just a puppy. During this time she has brought comfort and joy to a care home, a school and a special needs school. The deputy head says, “Leyan has changed several pupils’ confidence and it’s been the deciding factor in their progress – I don’t know what we’d do without her.” Another teacher says, “Leyan has made such a positive and enriching impact – thank you for the fantastic work you do.”
Mivvi, a Cocker Spaniel, owned by Dawn Chilcott
Mivvi’s PAT Dog career spans four years, during which time she has visited schools and care homes. The resident of one care home, who is living with dementia, was so delighted by Mivvi’s visit that she talked for the first time for a long time, as seeing Mivvi brought back happy and familiar memories for her. The pupils at Oystermouth Primary School read to Mivvi, and one child says, “I love Mivvi – she brightens my day.”
HiLife marketing director, Peter Parkinson, said “Every year we eagerly await the shortlist of incredible dogs that have made it as finalists for the PAT Dog of the year, and each year the competition seems to get tougher.
“Each and every PAT Dog and their owner make an amazing contribution to their community, and we hope every volunteer sees the awards as an overall celebration of their efforts and achievements throughout the year.”