Barking Blondes: The West End welcomes dogs
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.
THE BARKING HOUR / THURSADAYS 3-4pm BBC LONDON 94.9fmTagged in: braking blondes, dogs
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