As pet lovers, we know just how special our four-legged friends are, and have each felt first hand the joy they bring. Of course, some special dogs and cats don’t just enrich their carers’ lives, they quite literally make them worth living, and so this week we’re celebrating the fantastic work done by these amazing animals.
Established in 1986, the charity trains and supports assistance dogs for physically disabled adults and children. A more recent development is the PAWS scheme, helping children with autism flourish with the love and companionship of a well-trained family pet.
This brilliant organisation provides specially trained assistance dogs to injured and disabled men and women of both the UK Armed Forces and Emergency Services. The dogs not only boost their owner’s quality of life by opening doors, picking up items, getting money from ATMs, and so on, but they also supply invaluable companionship and love.
Between 60 and 70 dogs are placed by the charity every year, each one costing £20,000 to train and support through his or her working life. The training process takes around eighteen months and dogs then remain with their human for as long as both still benefit from the partnership.
This wonderful service provided by The Mayhew Animal Home sees volunteers taking animals into care homes, so that elderly residents can enjoy the companionship of a dog or kitten. Touch is one of the last senses to be affected for those suffering with Alzheimer’s and such interactions can therefore be very therapeutic – visits have been shown to reduce depression and lessen the social withdrawal that is often associated with the disease.
(Full disclosure: I am a trustee for The Mayhew!)
There are currently 4,500 active PAT (Pets As Therapy) Dogs, and a smaller number of PAT Cats working throughout the UK. The animals visit hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes and special needs schools, where they play a key role in the charity’s Read2Dogs programme, boosting literacy and confidence. The ‘Stroke and PAT’ project works with patients recovering from strokes, helping with therapy and rehabilitation.
Each of these wonderful organisations is funded by charitable donations, and any or all of them would be grateful for any help you might be able to give. Donating a sum (no matter how small), or setting up a regular contribution, can be a lovely way to make a real difference to someone’s life, whilst honouring the memory of a much-loved family pet.
Until next time,
With very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team