Pets as Therapy: Coco becomes a PAT dog

Author: 
Rosemary Gooch, Wagging Tails Portsmouth
Monday, April 3, 2017

Pets As Therapy (PAT) is a national charity that enhances health and wellbeing in the community through visits of trusted volunteers with their behaviourally assessed animals. They provide visiting services in hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues throughout the UK.

I had been thinking of volunteering myself and Coco, my little poodle cross mongrel, as volunteer visitors as she has such a sweet nature. Often when walking on The Heath in Petersfield, an old lady or gentleman will ask if they can stroke her and then tell me they aren’t allowed to have pets in their flat or residential home and how much they miss their cat or dog. Coco always makes a fuss of them and we all enjoy a chat.

Wagging Tails' Poodle X applies to be a Pets as Therapy DogRecently Hilary, one of the other Wagging Tails franchisees wrote a blog about Ted the PAT dog, who stays with one of her carers in Swindon. This spurred me on to do something about volunteering as Coco will be five in March, is very well behaved, loves people and has a calm nature.

I looked at the Pets As Therapy website and emailed them for further information. We downloaded the application forms and rang our local area coordinator who met Coco and I to assess whether she really does meet their criteria regarding temperament, behaviour, health and general cleanliness.

Ted’s owner Gill says

‘PAT dogs have to be calm but love fuss and attention and not mind people touching them from their head to the tip of their tail. They also need to be able to accept new situations, sounds and smells as they will be going into environments that not many dogs do. Ted spends about an hour on his visit to the nursing home, which seems to suit everyone. Ted is always happy to arrive and seems to know exactly where to go. He loves the fun and attention and brings smiles to a lot of faces.'

Coco and I watched a YouTube video of Robin Cousins MBE & his French bulldog Monty (see below), undergoing their assessment so we knew exactly what to expect.

Patricia, our assessor, was lovely and Coco immediately bonded with her and was a star turn during the various parts of the assessment and I’m happy to say she passed with flying colours. We are waiting for our references to be taken up and then for Pets As Therapy to contact us with a facility for us to visit.

Rosemary Gooch with CocoRosemary Gooch and Coco own and run the Wagging Tails Portsmouth franchise offering owners throughout the PO postcode area a home based alternative to kennels. Go here to find out more about her Portsmouth dog boarding service.