Whenever we are walking down the street with Dexter we know that we are almost guaranteed a bit of attention. Whether it’s little old ladies cooing over him or excited children asking to pet him (or not asking and just running up to him…).
We were once accosted by a brother and sister who fell in love with Dex on the spot. ‘If you had a pound for every time this happened…!’ their Dad said over their shoulders. Well, then I could stop buying lottery tickets…
Although, it does make me happy that our little dog can put a smile on so many other peoples’ faces. You see, there are dogs who do that professionally. Yep, they are professional evokers of happiness!
These dogs are part of an organisation called PAT – or Pets As Therapy. Pets As Therapy was founded in 1983 and since then over 28,000 dogs have been registered in the scheme. These dogs are owned by volunteers and are vaccinated, temperament tested and friendly. They provide therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and more.
At the moment there are roughly 4,500 active PAT dogs and every year some retire and new dogs are examined and tested on temperament, stability and health before they join the ranks. Half a million bedsides are visited by these animals each year, giving people – both young and old – the opportunity to cuddle with and talk to man’s best friend (there are also PAT cats for those more appreciative of our feline friends)!
Pets As Therapy was formed so that those who feel isolated and withdrawn can enjoy the unconditional love and understanding of a non-judgemental furry friend.
Of course, not every dog is suitable to join Pets As Therapy and not every dog owner has the time to volunteer. However, the charity works hard day to day to ensure that they can keep up registration and recruiting suitable dogs and owners so that they can meet the growing demand.
If you think that you dog or cat would be an excellent candidate you can find out more information here.