As a PAT dog, Scruffy’s been volunteering since he was maybe four years old which is about five years. Pets as Therapy provide lots of different types of animals to visit those who would welcome a furry or feathered friend as a visitor. He sees the young and the old and everyone in between, those suffering from physical and mental conditions in care homes, schools, hospices and hospitals. He works with Psychologists on the phobia of dogs to Physiotherapists working on movement.
The question always asked, is how come he’s so calm? Pets as Therapy take special care when selecting animals to make sure they won’t be scared or frightened of new noises, environments and situations. He is a very relaxed dog; even though he’s a collie/retriever which is a breed used to lots of exercise. Actually, Scruffy walks every day for a minimum of an hour and was walking, until recently when his joints started to show signs of wear and tear, for two hours. With lots of visiting under his belt, he’s used to the routine of sitting with people so they can stroke and talk to him. He is shattered after his PAT volunteering and goes home to snuggle up and sleep. Sometimes, there’s more energy in his batteries so he runs around for a bit, playing with toys or coming and going in and out of the garden.
A year or so ago, Scruffy suffered Anal Gland Cancer which after an operation and six rounds of chemo, he is thankfully, over it. After each treatment we would go home for a rest but I soon saw that he felt quite low. To cheer him up, I tried taking him to do PAT visiting and hey presto, Scruffy was in his element and feeling a lot better. Walking with his little bandage wrapped around his paw did give him something for everyone to talk about and lashings of love certainly came flooding his way – what more could he have asked for.
At one school for children with special needs, Scruffy was in a classroom of maybe six when the teacher had obviously begun to run out of patience and said, in a firm and clear voice ‘all of you, sit and be quiet.’ Well they went to take their seats and burst into hysterics of laughter having seen that the furry one had already taken his seat and was waiting patiently for them.
As you can tell, Scruffy sits on chairs because this means he can be reached by people who are in bed or in wheelchairs and maybe who can’t bend down to talk to him on the floor.
We are thrilled to have recently joined the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Pets as Therapy Team. It’s great to visit people who love animals, sometimes those who are missing their pets and often those who are stuck in hospitaland who find the visit of a friendly furry four legged friend invaluable. We are certainly having lots of fun.
He does have some tricks up his sleeve which he loves to share. He can bark on command, sit, lie, stand, come and go, open his biscuit cupboard, give his paw, shake when wet after a swim or shower, take or leave and more….He’s still learning more tricks. He loves to play ‘find’ with a person or food and is a keen footballer. Scruffy gives a tremendous amount to his community and receives just as much if not more in return. He is a family pet and very much loved.
To learn more about PAT dogs, please see click HERE To follow Scruffy’s adventures, please see him on Twitter @gillscruffy