Pets as Therapy

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Pets as Therapy is a National Charity that organises visits by volunteer pet owners who want to share their animals with others.

Pets as therapy - three of the dogs
Three 'Pets as Therapy' dogs

The Initials P.A.T. stand for Pets as Therapy and some of the residents of Balkerne Gardens have seen Pam and Jenny arrive on a Tuesday afternoon with their P.A.T. dogs. Pamela has a little West Highland Terrier called Ruthie and Jenny has an Airedale called Lottie and a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier called Tilly. The dogs thoroughly enjoy their visits, especially receiving their dog treats from the Secretary’s office.

Pets as Therapy is a National Charity that organises visits by volunteer pet owners who want to share their animals with others in Hospitals, Hospices, Residential Homes, Day Care Centres, Special Needs schools and many other establishments helping with therapy and treatment. The charity was founded in 1983 by Lesley Scott-Ordish, because she had seen how depressed and lonely many people in institutions had become when separated from their pets. Since its beginning, Pets as Therapy has registered over 23,000 dogs and 115 cats. Approximately 4,500 dogs and 106 cats are currently active.

All Pets as Therapy dogs must be well mannered, with a friendly and reliable nature and above all they must enjoy meeting people. All PAT dogs must have these simple but necessary qualities and they have to pass an independent temperament test carried out by a Temperament Assessor who has undergone a special course and understands exactly what is required of a visiting PAT dog. The dogs can be of any breed, cross-breed or size. PAT dogs range in size from Chihuahuas to Irish Wolfhounds

PAT dogs and cats give a lot during their visits and they are usually so tired that they will go to sleep as soon as they return to their own beds. Ruthie, Lottie and Tilly thrive on the fuss and attention they get when visiting Balkerne Gardens.

The latest initiative Pets as Therapy are promoting is READ 2 DOGS programme, research shows that children can be nervous and stressed when reading to others in a group. It has shown that when a P.A.T. dog enters the group the child becomes less stressed, less self- conscious and more confident as the dogs are non-judgemental. Before long the children are starting to look forward to the reading experience as they are going to read to their new friend, the P.A.T. dog.