Pets As Therapy | Hilary Coates finds out what makes a good PAT dog

Pets As Therapy: Ted the PAT Dog

Hilary Coates, Wagging Tails Wiltshire
Friday, October 7, 2016

Pets As Therapy (PAT) is a national charity that enhances health and wellbeing in the community through the visits of trusted volunteers with their behaviourally assessed animals.

Pets As Therapy provide visiting services in hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues throughout the UK. In our latest Blog Wagging Tails Wiltshire Franchisee, Hilary Coates, meets PAT dog Ted and his owner Gill and finds out what it required to be a good PAT dog. 

Ted is a beautiful 11 year old Golden Retriever that we at Wagging Tails SN have the privilege of looking after every now and again for some rest, relaxation and lovely walks in the woods. Until recently Ted lead a second life as an unsung hero – he’s a PAT dog and visits a care home and now the Children’s Ward at the Great Western Hospital. I say up until recently, as he has made such an impact at the hospital that he has been featured in both the monthly local Link Magazine and had an interview with the Swindon Advertiser and can no longer go ‘under the radar’!

He takes it all in his stride, which is why he’s perfect as a PAT dog. But what does make the right dog? I asked his owner Gill, who was happy to provide some background on their journey to becoming PAT dog and volunteer.

Golden Retriever, Ted, is a Pets as Therapy dog.“PAT dogs have to be calm but love fuss and attention, and not mind people touching them from their head to the tip of their tail. They also need to be able to accept new situations, sounds and smells, as they will be going into environments that not many dogs do”.

explained Gill.

“I have been involved in the caring profession for my career, and had seen first-hand the remarkable effect that dogs can have on people who may not be able to get what they need from another human, which can sometimes be listening and being there without judging. I was managing a hospital prior to my retirement and seeing the wonderful effect the visiting PAT dog had on patients with dementia made my mind up – if I was lucky enough to have a suitable dog, we would go for it!”

Wiltshire dog carer Jenny walking her guest dog TedAs it turned out, both Ted (pictured on holiday with Dog Carer Jenny) and the previous dog Gill owned were perfect for the role and once they had both been with her for six months (which is the minimum time you must own a dog before you can apply), she was able to have the dogs and herself assessed (the humans need references and to be seen handling their dogs).

“He spends about an hour on his visit to Park View nursing home, the same as at the hospital. Apart from anything else those buildings are very warm - of necessity- and he is after all a hairy retriever and also he is nearly 11. The visits seem to suit everyone at that length.”

“He is always happy to arrive there and seems to know exactly where to go. If I have any concerns about it affecting him adversely I will retire him, but for now he loves the fuss and attention and brings a lot of smiles to a lot of faces”.

If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved with this charity please visit the Pets As Therapy website.

Hilary Coates and her Beagle, BanditHilary Coates and Bandit own and run the Wagging Tails Swindon franchise offering owners throughout the SN postcode area a home based alternative to kennels. Go here to find out more about her Swindon dog boarding service.