Pets As Therapy/Pro Dogs

THE LATIN poet Virgil once wrote: ‘Meanwhile, time is flying - flying, never to return’. Over the past few months those at Pets As Therapy could have done with more time.

More hours in the day, more days in the week. There has been little time to spare for anything other than the charity in these most exciting times of change. At the end of last year we moved our Head Office to Reading and initiated several procedural changes to the registration of PAT dogs and cats. Every new volunteer now receives a comprehensive ‘Volunteers Handbook’, for which we thank Shaws for their sponsorship. PAT CHAT Newsletters are now distributed every two months and there are new membership cards, which bear a photograph of the member. We are shortly to introduce new dog discs, which will bear a photograph of the registered PAT dog or cat. We are therefore now requesting volunteers to send in the Head Office photographs of their PAT pets in order for them to be scanned in readiness for the new discs being produced.

I cannot tell you how delighted we were to be voted ‘Charity of the Year’ at the Golden Bone Awards. I was honoured to attend the awards along with the Southern Director of Pets As Therapy Lena Hanen. What a stunning occasion it was, and we were overjoyed when the results were announced. Later in the evening we chatted to Katie Boyle who has followed the work of the charity with great interest since it started in 1983 and also Shauna Lowry who told us that her mother had been going to register her own dog as a PAT dog until he, unfortunately, became ill. The Golden Bone Awards were organised wonderfully well and our thanks go to all concerned in the organisation of this thrilling event.

Crufts was very busy for Pets As Therapy. We had a small stand in hall 4, as well as two Parades of PAT dogs every day in the Good Citizen’s ring, plus PAT dogs had been invited onto several Trade stands where their owners were allowed to collect and talk to the public about the work of the charity. Our thanks to Iams, Gilbertson & Page, Shaw’s, Arden Grange, Allbrooks and Birdbrook for their kindness.

On the final day of Crufts I was delighted to meet up with Pam St Clement of EastEnders fame, who has always shown a huge amount of interest in the work we do and who has recently agreed to become a Patron of Pets As Therapy. Pam had photographs taken on the stand with several PAT dogs and then went into the Good Citizen’s ring for both parades, talking to the PAT volunteers about their lovely dogs. What a caring lady, a true animal lover. Over the years at Crufts the parades of PAT dogs have become quite a feature and we are so lucky to have PAT Area Co-ordinators Gladys Hutchinson and Tony Robinson who organise these parades so well. It was only fitting that in the very last parade of PAT dogs at Crufts we invited Gladys and Tony into the ring for a special ‘thank you’ presentation.

PRO Dogs are always on the lookout for exceptional dogs who deserve a medal. Can you help? There are three categories: Life Saving, Devotion to Duty and Pet of the Year. If you know a dog who has saved a life, sniffed out drugs, or has just been a remarkable pet, please send details to Angela at PRO Dogs, 4 New Road, Ditton, Kent ME20 6AD. Nominations will be verified and put before a panel of judges in September. The Awards will take place on December 8 at Sandown Park Race Course, Esher, Surrey. PRO Dogs are to attempt to hold the largest dog training class ever, followed by a DOWN-A-THON. The event is to take place on Sunday May 12 at Brentwood. Peter Purves and Roy Dyer will talk volunteers through how to train your dog to the basic commands of Attention, Sit, Close and Down. This will be followed by the Down-a-thon, where the dogs will be placed in a down, both on or off the lead and hopefully stay in that position for up to five minutes. This is where sponsorship comes in. Perhaps friends and family will sponsor your dog in aid of PRO Dogs. Last year over 400 people took part. PRO Dogs are trying to beat that number this year. For a sponsor form or further details, call Angela on 01732 848499.

If you live in the North East of England watch out for a series of community link advertisements on Tyne Tees Television which are to be broadcast from May 27. They feature Ann Quarrie and her Border Collie Sweep who visits several establishments; however the filming for the television coverage was from Whickham Villa where Ann visits profoundly disabled adults. I was privileged to be at the recording and saw for myself the huge pleasure that Sweep brings to the residents all of whom are wheelchair users.

If you would like to register your dog as a PAT dog please send an sae to Pets As Therapy, 17 Ambrook Road, Reading, Berks RG2 8SL. If you have any news, views or comments please contact me at Pets As Therapy Northern Office, PO Box 11, Stanley, Co Durham DH9 7YZ or telephone 01207 236040.

PAT dog, Sweep, owned by Ann Quarrie.


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