Barking Blondes: The West End welcomes dogs

Joanne Good and Anna Webb

barking1 300x225 Barking Blondes: The West End welcomes dogsMuch celebration amongst dog owners in the metropolis this week, due to the West End store, Liberty’s, now brandishing a sign saying DOGS WELCOME.

What a wise move, especially on the back of the latest research from The Kennel Club which reveals that dog owners are 9% richer than non dog owners and are more generous with their money!

Maybe now all of the stores, restaurants and pubs that ban our four legged friends will get real and realize, in a recession, what side their bones are buttered.

We spent an emotional couple of days this week filming in a psychiatric hospital with a Syberian husky, named Tess.. She is a PAT dog.

Pets as Therapy was formed in 1983 as a radical new concept that has taken Man’s Best Friend into hospices, hospitals, nursing and care homes and psychiatric homes.  The success of PAT Dogs has led to over 22,000 dogs being registered for service over the years .

We saw for ourselves the extraordinary effect Tess had on the patients as well as the staff.

The moment she entered the wards, people smiled, stopped to pat and consequently stopped to chat and little groups and conversations were formed throughout the day, discussing pets of the past or pets they may one day own.

It’s been proved that visiting dogs help the residents of these care homes in many ways where human companionship or standard communication fails

It is the silent understanding that a dog offers that brings smiles to faces and offering a lovely soft body to touch and stroke calms people immediately. Many scientific studies have proved that stroking a dog can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine in people — nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasurable and calming properties.

Dogs are known for their intuition and for wanting a sense of purpose in life. They are also the most adaptable of domesticated pets, enjoying going to new places to see new faces……..this makes the dog perfect to help the confused, lonely and depressed, in care homes.

Our lingering memory was of Tess by the side of a young vibrantly artistic girl, determined to put Tess’s face to canvas, and patting her enthusiastically, with an arm revealing scars from years of self harming.

There are over 4,000 dogs and their volunteer PAT Dog owners working in Britain at the moment. Any breed of dog can apply to be therapy dog, the stipulations are simple the dog must be of a calm disposition, not overly attention seeking, it mustn’t jump up, or bark, and must above all else love to be stroked.  A well mannered, confident dog won’t demand attention, but be grateful to receive it when offered. So many rescue dogs end up working as PAT dogs as their new owners make this a goal to show how well their rescue has been rehabilitated – therein lies an irony……….how dogs and people help and complement one another. It’s Man’s best friend repeating itself again.

The Cinnamon Trust is another wonderful charity that helps the elderly and their pets stay together when, otherwise, separation due to rules of No Pets allowed in care homes by offering  a list of pet friendly care homes. And with a team of volunteers that help with the dog’s daily care – walking , feeding, grooming it is possible for some to stay with their dog.  Such armies of generous and altruistic volunteers are making a difference to those in care at a level beyond basic medical help – but psychologically, emotionally, and intuitively.

The film showing PAT dogs at work will be on BB1 Monday week. Look out for Tess.


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  • Somerset2

    What a wonderful idea PAT is. I’ll watch out for your film. Great blog as always!

  • Robert Stuhldreer

    Re: Liberties. I suppose it is a partial step forward but if you had researched their dog admittance policy in any detail you would have found it to be flawed. They are only allowing dogs in under a certain height. They have a demarcation line at their entrance which bars dogs over a certain height. Surely entrance into shops, such as Liberties, should be based upon the temperament/behaviour of each individual dog rather than their size. You are far more likely to be bitten or yapped at by a rat in a handbag than a larger breed dog. Liberties you need to rethink your dog entrance policy.

  • madgooner1

    Can you take dogs Into Harrods?

  • Marie Sawle

    Yes yes yes. Dogs should be allowed in most places…as long as the owners respect the unwritten rules. No weeing, no barking, no jumping, no going on furniture and apply discretion. In France where I come from, most places welcome dogs and I have never witnessed any problems. People are more likely to talk to each other when a dog is present. Places like Gaucho’s restaurants even organise lunch for owners and their dogs. I think attitudes are changing and hopefully we will see more places open their doors to dogs….of all sizes!

  • MrReasons2BCheerful

    Hoorah! I’m very pleased Liberty is the first – in a long time – to allow dogs into the store. It’s been quite a while since such stores as Peter Jones allowed our four-legged friends in and I, for one, hope that the lead Liberty’s has taken will be followed by other major retailers.
    When the notice “no dogs” went up on Peter Jones’ doors many years’ ago, my card was cut up within days!
    The loss of the kennels facility at Harrods was a major blow for dog owners and I wonder if the management looked at the figures for the week prior to removing this facility for shoppers to those afterwards.
    We dog owners have a bit of a rough time when out shpping with our pets. There never seem to be enough tie-points outside, and with no one to look after their beloved pooches owners will worry whether or not their beloved hound will still be there when they return. So a huge well done to Liberty!

  • marcbletchley

    evening jo and anna

    we’ve come a long way since me and grans dog ‘chops’ were tied up outside the co-op in balham in 1962 people use to walk by and give chops a biscuit and me a penny!.

    moving onto the blog there is so much more to this dog loving lark its just out of my league maybe because i dont own a dog but this blog blows my mind everyweek with infomation.

    woof woof to mollie and matilda not forgetting MrReasons2BCheerful bruno

  • Holly Lily Jones

    Oooh cannot wait to see the programme on PATS dogs. I did try a couple of times to sign Holly up for it as she is so wonderful with children and old people – she has the sense to be gentle and it is amazing to watch her. This will inspire me again to sign her up. And I am going to look into the Cinammon trust – amazing charity. Thank you Ladies for bringing this to our attention.
    Oooh and Hooray for Libertys too!

  • Holly Lily Jones

    Only into Pet Kingdom. Go to back entrance and tell teh Doorman and they send an escort down to get you and your pooch!

  • Kate Bendix

    Cinnamon Trust does an amazing job. They always need local volunteers too.

    Dogs just like children should be allowed everywhere, not frowned upon. As long as neither does weeing, screaming/barking, jumping or clambering, then why not? I’ve seen far worse behaved grown ups allowed in, so why not dogs?

  • Ziggydog

    Well done to Liberty indeed! Great that its dog owners setting the pace in earnings too. Dogs bring out the best in people so doesn’t surprise me that dog owners are more generous too.

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