Animal Assisted Therapy
My Dog Refused to Let Me Die
Hooray for Henry (Dogs for the Disabled)
The be all of Endal (Canine Partners)
Dogs as Transitional objects in the
Treatment of Patients with Drug Dependancy
Trained Dogs help people cope with Depression,
Pets Assisting Learning at Stamm Elementary
Dog Aid (Assistance In Disability)
Having a Pet will Help You Through Divorce
Pets as Therapy (P.A.T. Dogs)
My Dog Refused to Let Me Die
Plagued by depression,
one lady could see only one way out. But when her beloved pet
saw the glint of a carving knife, he sprang into action.....
Watching this lady and her beloved dog, its clear they have
a special bond. The dog rarely takes her eyes off her owner,
and is happiest when snuggled up by her side on the sofa.
"I love her to pieces" says the young woman-and with good
reason. Three years ago, suffering from severe depression, she
tried to kill herself by slashing her wrists. It was the dog that
saved her life.
The young woman had a history of depression and first tried
to take her own life at just 14, contemplating jumping from her bedroom
"I was looking at the ground 30 feet below and was going
to let go when dad came into the room and made me move away from the
window," she says.
Her GP diagnosed clinical depression and put her on Prozac.
Over the next few years, she was on and off treatment, and her
life was in turmoil. Then, in April 2000, feeling lonely after
moving into her own flat, she got a dog.
"I thought it would be nice to have someone who relied on
me and would love me back. I thought it would give me a reason
to get up in the morning."
After visiting four rescue centres, she finally arrived at
Pine Ridge Dog Sanctuary in Ascot. A stray was being shown to
another family, but they decided not to take her.
"I knew straight away that she was the one," the woman says.
"She'd just has a litter of puppies and was in a relly bad
way. I took her for a walk, but every time I tried to make eye
contact, she turned her head away and wouldn't look at me."
"I thought she might be disturbed, and I did wonder what
I was letting myself in for, but I felt she needed a chance of love"
So the young woman took the dog home. They were inseparable
from day one and having the dog to care for gave her a new focus in
"She distracted me from everything. I just concentrated
on her well-being," says the woman. However ill I got, she always
had to be fed and walked. When I came home, I could talk to
her and cuddle her. If I was upset, she made me feel better.
I depended on her as much as she depended on me."
However, when a close friend was diagnosd with cancer, I
had also split up with my boyfriend. It felt as if my world
was crashing down," she says.
At the same time, the dog started to have behavioural problems,
causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to the flat while the woman
was out at work.
In desperation, she took the dog to a behaviourist, who said
that the dog was also suffering from depression just like its owner.
"She said that the dog was sensing I wasn't right and feeding
off my feelings," She says. The dog was put on ant-depressants
The dog's treatment was successful, but the woman's depression
worsened and, in despair, she decided she couldn't go on.
"I was sitting on the floor and had a carving knife in my
hand when the dog started to bark at me. She threw herself on
my lap and was lying on top of my arm so I couldn't reach it with the
knife. I pushed her away and picked up the knife again, holding
the blade at my wrist.
The dog started pawing my hand away and was crying and whining.
She was beside herself. I just looked into her eyes and
thought, "I can't do this." If I died, she would not have anyone to look
after her. How long would it be before someone found her? It
just made me snap out of it."
It was a turning point for the young woman. The following
day she went to her GP and admitted herself to a psychiatric hospital.
She stayed there for a month, and was then an outpatient for the
next two months. Gradually, she overcame her depression, and
now she's enjoying lif with the ever-faithful dog plus another rescue
dog she adopted recently.
"I will always be grateful to my dog," she says. She
saved my life and I'd be lost without her. She means the world
to me...and more.
From an unknown source.
back to top
Dogs for the Disabled
may not be a widely known charity, but its work transforms people's
lives, says David Tomlinson, after seeing what Andy Lee's incredible Labrador
Reprinted with kind permission of the editor Camilla Clark,
taken from Shooting Times Magazine
15 February 2007
Most of us feel pretty chuffed when our dog manages a particularly
challenging retrieve, but compared with the skills mastered by Dogs
for the Disabled, that's nothing, as I discovered when I met Andy
Lee and his dog Henry. Andy is a former policeman who has been
confined to a wheelchair since a mountain bike accident 10 years ago.
When he acquired Henry, a yellow Labrador, his life changed completely,
as he explained to me.
"Untill I got Henry I'd never had anything to do with dogs.
I found out about Dogs for the Disabled at a Mobility Roadshow,
applied for a dog and got Henry three years ago. He does everything
for me, and it's thanks to him that I can live on my own without relying
on carers. He helps me get up in the morning and happily carries
things up and down the stairs for me. That includes anything from
a cup to a half-full laundry basket. If I fall over I can't get up
again, but I only have to tell Henry to fetch the phone and he brings it
"Henry's training was adapted especially to my needs. If,
for example, I drop the television remote control when I am in bed,
Henry will pick it up and put it back on my chest. He switched
it in once when he was doing this - it really shocked him. He helps
me to get dressed and undressed. He will help pull my socks off and
fetch what I have taken off. He opens and shuts all the doors at
home, and when we go shopping he will carry my shopping basket and take
my credit card to the counter. If I buy a drink in the pub he will take
the money to the bar, but I've got to admit that he is not good at bringing
the change back!
"It's amazing what he can do. He can pick a 5p coin
up from a ceramic floor or operate the buttons on a
pedestrian crossing. He will even put chicken bones in
the bin for me. He does everything with his mouth, nose and
paws. Apart from all the practicalities, one thing he does brilliantly
is break down barriers. If you are in a wheelchair people tend
to ignore you, but when they see Henry working with me they want to talk
to me about him."
Compared with Guide Dogs for the Blind, one of our best known
and wealthiest charities, Dogs for the Disabled has a much lower profile
and significantly fewer financial resources. It was founded 18
years ago in memory of Frances Hay. She died in her fourties from
bone cancer, but she trained her pet dogs to help her, pioneering the work
being done today.
In 2006, the charity trained 28 or so dogs and placed them
with their owners (though partners may be a better description), while
this year it's hoping to train 40. Incidentally, it's the only
charity of it's type that places dogs with children.
What, you might ask, has all this got to do with a gundog
column in Shooting Times, apart from the Labrador connection? Simple,
really. Dogs for the Disabled depends almost entirely on Labradors,
and finding sufficient suitable dogs is a major challenge. Experience
has shown that dogs from working lines are far more likely to graduate
successfully from the eight-month training course than show dogs, but there's
the inevitable shortage of suitable puppies.
Unfortunately, because of the demands of the job, Dogs for
the Disabled always uses neutered dogs, ruling out the possibilty
of breeding from proven stock. The charity does now have a breeding
programme, with five brood bitches, but donations of suitable puppies
are eagerly sought. The ideal puppy is one that is bold with lots
of drive, while it is vital that it has been bred from quality stock
and been tested for hereditary genetic problems.
It really is extraordinarily
touching to see not only what a trained dog can do, but also the difference
it makes to someone's life. If you might be in a position to
donate a puppy, or would like to learn more, contact Dogs for the Disabled:-
The be all of Endal
Charlotte Lycett Green meets the dog that helped to piece Gulf
War Veteran Allen Parton's life back together.
Arrive at Allen Parton's door, ring the bell, and you will
be deafened by the barking from what sounds like a pack of elephant-sized
dogs within. Walk in, trembling, and you will be met by Ikea,
a fluffy golden retriever carrying a cushion, and a large yellow Labrador
leaping around on the sofa. This is Endal. Dog of the Millennium
and Dickin Medal holder - among many other awards - and personal assistant
Every wall in Allen's home is festooned with pictures of Endal,
Ikea and the puppies that his wife Sandra has walked for the charity
Canine Partners, which helps people with disabilities to enjoy a better
quality of life through the help of specially trained assistance dogs.
As Allen began to tell of the events that led to his and Endal's
extraordinary partnership, Ikea reclined by the sofa and Endal settled
quietly by his side.
In 1991, Allen, a weapons electronics officer in the Royal
Navy, deployed for the Gulf War. Within a month, he was involved
in a horrific road traffic accident that left him without feeling in
his right-hand side and half his memory. He couldn't talk properly,
read or write. Worse still, he had no memory of his marriage or
children. "I didn't know my wife. I didn't like her. The
children were noisy and I didn't like them either." Allen admits
that he was tormented by depression and wretched to be with. "I
was the cancer in the family - totally destructive," he said, stroking
Endal's head. Deciding that a puppy might bring some light-hearted
entertainment into the household and perhaps help remove Allen from his
despair, Sandra contacted Canine Partners (http://www.caninepartners.co.uk)
and applied to become one of the puppy walkers for the assistance dogs.
One morning when the bus to take Allen to his day care centre
did not arrive, Sandra took him along to watch a puppy class. It
was the chance meeting with a young yellow Labrador puppy, which had
a bit of an attitude problem, that was the start of Allen's future with
the then untrained 11-month-old Endal.
Endal has esteemed working ancestors-his pedigree can be traced
back 26 generations to Buccleuch Avon, born in 1885-and he is no stranger
to the shooting field. His puppy parent used to take him out shooting
and picking-up on the Cowdray estate. She wasn't supposed to, but
it seems to have done him no harm. Those early days out shooting can
only have encouraged Endal's natural ability, intelligence and keenness
In reality, of course,
Endal's job is far more complex than that of a usual retriever, though
his need to problem solve, think about what he is getting, where it
it, how to get it and how to return it to Allen is no different to the
process another dog goes through to pick-up game.
Due to his head injury, Allen often forgets the word for an
item-he knows what it is and does, just cannot remember what it is
called. In the early days of their partnership, when the words
wouldn't come, Allen had to describe in a kind of sign language what
he needed. It didn't take Endal long to clock on to what he required:
when Allen wants his cap, he pats the top of his head; Endal nips round
to the back of the wheelchair, noses through the contents, picks out
a cap and delivers it to hand. It's impressive to watch. He
can also open the washing machine door, pull out the washing, give it
to Allen and then shutthe door behind him-he is a perfectionist and extremely
tidy. He also chooses Allen's cereal in the morning.
"I'll ask him to go and get my razor now," said Allen, rubbing
the side of his face with his hand. "I don't know where it is actually,
but I am sure he'll find it." Endal dashed off upstairs into the
bedroom. After listening to him padding about for a few seconds,
he reappeared with the razor in it's case and delivered it to Allen.
Now that was really clever. Endal, however, was fairly nochalant
about the whole thing and sat down next to Allen with a heavy sigh, shut
his eyes and went back to sleep.
What sets Endal apart from other assisstance dogs, though,
is that he has not been trained to do any of these tasks, he acts purely
on instinct and initiative. "I was staying in a hotel the other
night and got into bed when I realised the bathroom light was still
on. I said to Endal, Get off the bed and turn the light of will
you." he jumped offf the bed, turned the light off and gor back on the
bed. The next day it suddenly occurred to me that I didn't know where
the light switch was, whether it was outside the bathroom, inside the bathroom,
a pull switch or what. He just worked it out."
Just some of Endal's other talents include working the cash
mashine, doing the shopping, fetching items from the cupboard at home
and collecting the post.
The true measure of Endal's ability came to light a few years
ago when he and Allen were hit by a car. He had been knocked
out of his wheelchair and lying unconscious, Endal pulled Allen into
the recovery position, fetched a blanket from the upside down wheelchair
and put it over him. Then he retrieved Allen's mobile phone from
under the nearby car and put it by his face. When he couldn't wake
Allen, Endal rushed off to the hotel and got help. For this he
won the PDSA Gold meda, the animals' George Cross for bravery and devotion
The pair's devotion to one another is undeniable. Not
only does Endal watch Allen's every move, ready to help him in any
way he can and prepared to save his life at the drop od a hat, but through
his good nature, character and constant presence, he provides Allen with
a confidence and independance that he never thought would be achievable
after his accident. He's also a great ice-breaker. "You need
Mr Cuddly here when you are getting in a lift with other people. A
lot of people are afraid of dogs, and it's not surprising really. Dogs
are being pushed to the fringes of society-I am so lucky that I can take
Endal anywhere with me, on the train, on planes, in shops and to the pub,
where he barks untill he is served-very handy!"
Endal is 10 years old now, so the search is on for "EJ"-Endal
Juniour. "I would like to find a young dog that can work alongside
Endal and slowely learn the tasks he does naturally for me," said Allen.
Endal suffers from OCD, which has to be carefully monitored since
much of his work involves jumping up to reach things. "As both
of us grow older, we are going to be less mobile, and I will need a dog
that can cope with that. One day I will put my hand down beside me
and he will not be there," said Allen, stroking Endal's head again.
It is a special relationship between man and dog, as anyone
who has enjoyed the company of and been lucky enough to work a great
dog will know. "Endal is a thinking dog and is instinctively clever.
But he is just a dog that enjoys doing normal doggy things. We
are not unique, anyone can have a relationship with their dog, they just
have to know how to do it.
"There has to be team spirit-the messagew you send down the
lead will come back up it. I had lost all emotion and tried to
commit suicide twice by the time I met Endal. Love, hate, happiness,
sadness-all those feelings were alien to me. I was in the darkest,
most soulless place imaginable. If there is any animal on the planet
that can teach you love, it's got to be a dog.
"I think of my life as a puzzle that was blown apart in the
Gulf War. Endal is bringing back the pieces and helping me to
put the puzzle back together again.."
Allen accepts that
he was one of the lucky ones, but points out that though the ever increasing
numbers of servicemen who have died on operational tours is appalling,
nothing is said about those with horrific life-changing and life-destroying
from which they must rehabilitate. "If it hadn't been
for Endal, I would be another statistic wasting away in a war pensioners'
home. He has given me so much of my life back. He is there
for me, unconditionally. "Everyone says guardian angels have
two legs, well mine has four," said Allen, gently touching the
top of Endal's head.
Visit Endal on his very own website to see what else he gets up to
back to top
Dogs as Transitional Objects in the Treatment of
Patients with Drug Dependency
Many patients who suffer from drug dependency have a history
of severe attachment disorders in childhood and often have suffered
severe early life trauma. Research that has been done in Cornwall has
shown that 70% of the women who inject drugs and 30-40% of the men who
inject drugs have suffered childhood trauma to the degree that had they
been identified they would have been placed on the ’At Risk’ register.
A significant number of these patients have suffered severe trauma and
abuse early in life.
The result of this is that they have difficulty forming attachments
with other people as their original attachments have been associated
with severe trauma and abuse and therefore find it extremely difficult
to form good relationships with other human beings and to form secure attachments.
Role of animals – particularly dogs
As a result, many of our severely damaged patients’ main attachment
object is with a dog and occasionally with other animals, but usually
dogs and mostly lurchers.
, , We find this attachment that our patients have with
their dogs is the key attachment in their life and I am sure anyone reading
this article will have seen some of the abandoned members of our society
in shop doorways and on the streets with their dogs which do represent
their only attachment and companion.
Unfortunately many services preclude patients from bringing their
dogs into clinics or into residential treatment and I find that many
severely damaged patients are unable to take up the option of residential
treatment because the residential treatment facilities do not allow dogs.
It is interesting that when we were looking at planning a residential facility
in our County, we insisted on provision for patients’ pets (particularly
dogs) in the design of the building, but this was resisted by the authorities
and very little provision is made for these patients who have very severe
attachment disorders for whom their dog is the center of their life.
We find it is impossible to treat the patient without the dog; in fact
by talking to the patient about their dog and welcoming their dog we are
often able then to make contact with patients who are extremely suspicious
of people due to the fact that most of their experience at the hands of
their fellow human beings has been that of abuse. We therefore find that
by accepting the dog we often then begin to be accepted by the patient and
make contact with them.
, , Thus from our experience of treating patients with
drug addiction, who often represent some of the most severely damaged
personalities we see in psychiatry, we find that we must make provision
for and accept their pets and welcome them within our service. This does
present problems. One of our patients collects ’rescue’ Rottweilers,
which themselves have severe attachment disorders; I vividly recall
doing a clinic when I saw this patient, whose Rottweiler was feeling
insecure and spent the entire session sitting on my lap, which made
for an interesting consultation!
If we are to engage with the severely damaged personalities that
have basically been abandoned by our society, we must learn to be respectful
and accommodate their only safe attachments, ie their dogs. Certainly
we find that once a patient has made an attachment to a dog, then this
is the beginning of their rehabilitation and through working on this attachment
and supporting it we can often then enable them to begin to form trust
again with human beings. But the dog is a vital transitional object in
the process of them forming good attachments with other human beings following
their experience, which has often been of appalling traumatic relationships
in early life with humans.
Dr A B Charnaud
Cornwall Community Drugs Team
back to top
Trained dogs help people cope with depression, other illness
Martha Moulai rarely goes anywhere without her dog, Ruby.The dog
nestles at her feet during a light-rail train ride, in an art class and
at an upscale restaurant on Minneapolis' Block E.
Ruby's orange vest marked with the words "service dog" explains
why the 3-year-old goes along. Still, curious onlookers ask, "Why do
you have the dog?" Moulai says.
She tells them Ruby helps her cope with effects of a disability
people can't see - serious depression.
Ruby is among a growing number of dogs being trained as companions
for people who have mental-health issues, from bipolar disorder to post-traumatic
stress syndrome. The help provided is similar to that given by dogs for
the blind, deaf and physically disabled, except it is mostly emotional
rather than physical.
When Moulai feels stressed, holding or touching her dog calms
her, she says.
"Ruby will hop up and lay her head on my shoulder on cue or command.
It's very comforting."
The dog tames the fears that can surface when Moulai is in public
"What you learn is to trust the dog's instincts to sense an intruder,"
says Moulai, a nurse who lives in Minneapolis. "If there were one, you
could see it in her body language."
A trained dog can ease hypervigilance at home, too, with training
to check that doors and windows are locked. Service dogs also can learn
to assist in a medical crisis and remind their owners to take prescribed
"She's always there with me," Moulai says.
Moulai met some people with psychiatric service dogs last summer
at a camp for people with mental illnesses. She talked with her psychiatrist
and therapist about the possibility of getting one of her own. Then,
she started looking.
"I waited for the connection to feel right," she says.
She found and adopted Ruby at the Animal Humane Society in Golden
Valley, where she trained the dog in an obedience class. She added service-dog
training tactics from a list of 40 posted on http://www.psychdog.org, a Web site
of the 7-year-old Psychiatric Service Dog Society.
Moulai wasn't sure Ruby could make it as a service dog. Like many
people with mental illnesses, Ruby had a history of trauma, her Humane
Society file said. The dog appeared timid, barked a lot and jumped up
on strangers. But Moulai had a good feeling about Ruby.
"With patience and training, she skyrocketed into this dog that's
very calm and relaxed," she says, fondly petting the dog's floppy ears.
The Psychiatric Service Dog Society encourages people to train
their own service dogs. But most service dogs are professionally trained,
says Myra Fourwinds, a dog trainer who lives in Little Canada. She has
trained service dogs for people with physical and psychiatric disabilities
and, at times, for people who have both.
"Because a lot of people have multiple disabilities, there's a
lot of crossover," she says. For people with visible and invisible disabilities,
service dogs amount to "a form of liberation," she says.
But the newer use of dogs geared to psychological difficulties
is controversial among some professionals who serve people with physical
disabilities. Some have concerns about the welfare of dogs in the care
of owners who might become mentally unstable, says Al Peters, executive
director of Minneapolis-based Hearing and Service Dogs of Minnesota.
Others question whether dogs that provide emotional support fit a service-dog
"Offering friendship and companionship is truly the role of a
dog," Peters says. "But it doesn't meet the criteria."
Advocates say successful training itself elevates a dog to service-dog
status. And many dog trainers vouch for its therapeutic benefits.
"For people with depression, agoraphobia or panic attacks, or
kids who are autistic and out of touch with reality, a service dog can
help draw them out of themselves and focus more in the here and now,"
says Becky Schultz, a certified dog trainer with a background in mental-health
Ruby is at Moulai's side on her job as nurse consultant at a group
home, during a stop at the supermarket and at Sunday church services.
When a store manager or restaurant server questions Ruby's presence,
Moulai displays a homemade card explaining Ruby's role as a service dog.
She presents a laminated note citing federal and state laws entitling
service dogs to be in most public buildings. And she carries a verifying
note, written on a prescription form, from her psychiatrist.
Ruby goes along, too, for Moulai's twice-weekly classes at the
Inside Out Gallery at Interact Center, a program in Minneapolis for people
with psychiatric diagnoses. For a recent art show, she created an artistic
replica of Ruby, sewn in shades of golden fabric. "Gold, because she's
worth a million dollars to me," Moulai says.
When she experiences emotional overload during an art class, Moulai
retreats to a couch in a back room with Ruby. As she does at home, she
calls, "Hup-up," to her four-legged companion. Ruby hops onto her lap
and cuddles against her chest and neck while her owner rests, meditates
and regains a sense of calm.
"Her mere presence is a big part of it," Moulai says.
Exercise, nutrition, interaction with friends, medications and
a skilled medical team all figure into managing Moulai's depression.
Her main goal is to end the dark moods that have temporarily put her in
hospitals and day-treatment programs each of the past eight years.
Now, she's hopeful. It's been almost a year since her last slide
into deep depression.
She gives Ruby a lot of the credit for that.
back to top
Pets assisting learning at Stamm Elementary
Program helps eliminate students' fear of reading
By Sarah Williams
EMILY MOYER, 9, left, reads a book to Moose with Jill Otermat as
part of the Pets Assisting Learning Program at Stamm Elementary School.
Nine-year-old Emily Moyer couldn't help but let a little fear creep
in when she met Moose, her 100-pound Rottweiler reading partner.
But things changed quickly.
For their visit just last week, Moyer read to the dog, then presented
him with a homemade card, complete with the smiling faces of herself,
Moose and his handler and owner, Jill Otermat.
Moyer and Moose are part of a new reading program at Stamm Elementary
called Pets Assisting Learning -- P.A.L. The program, just started this
fall by Stamm parent Laurie Buchele, is designed to help students who may
be having a little trouble getting the hang of things, or are shy about
A third-grader, Moyer said she used to get nervous about reading
and didn't like to do it in front of a class. But since meeting with
Moose and Otermat for about six weeks, she's feeling more confident.
"I'm starting to like reading," Moyer said. "I'm getting better
To get into the program, a student must be recommended by a teacher.
A note is then sent to his or her parents for their approval and to
check for allergies. Finally, the child signs a promise to treat the
handler and pet with respect.
P.A.L. boasts the added bonus of familiarizing kids with animals
-- how to treat them, and the kind of responsibility that goes into taking
care of a pet.
"The whole idea is to take away the human component of fear," Buchele
"Maybe they're not that good at reading, or maybe they're scared
to death to read in class. An animal doesn't criticize.
" ... It's the silliest idea, but it works -- it's working."
Buchele also brings her beagle, Daisy, in front of a whole first-grade
class from time to time -- a reward for good readers.
Right now, there are seven dogs and their handlers working with
eight children. Two more children are waiting for animals to be paired
And the program isn't limited to dogs -- Stamm's guinea pig, Midnight,
and rabbit, Gilligan, also have the pleasure of a story now and again.
In the case of "pocket pets," the child reads to the animal inside a
Any type of pet is welcome.
Each dog serving as a listener in the program must be licensed
and pass a Canine Good Citizen test by the American Kennel Club. Buchele's
husband, Officer Ken Buchele of the Fremont Police Department, conducts
the tests along with Chris Bliss, wife of Fremont Police Officer Dean
Bliss. Ken Buchele is the K-9 coordinator/handler for the Fremont police.
The Canine Good Citizen test examines 10 characteristics of a dog's
behaviour -- for example, whether it accepts a friendly stranger, sits
politely for petting, can walk through a crowd, is well-groomed, will come
when called, and that it is not overly aggressive.
Other animals to enter the program are also tested, but in a less
ceremonious manner. Ken Buchele said that so far, one dog volunteered
for the program failed the test, and there was another problem: "I got
bit by a hamster."
Handlers fill out an application and are checked for a criminal
As a handler, Otermat said she was interested in the program because
she believes strongly in the importance of literacy. She also wanted
kids to know that not all Rottweilers or big dogs are mean animals, as
stereotypes often preach. Like Buchele at Stamm, she takes Moose to Hayes
Elementary to appear in front of a class.
In the beginning of their pairing, Moyer read quietly and focused
on Moose, Otermat said. But as time passed, the girl gained confidence
in herself and felt more comfortable with Otermat.
Six weeks into the program Wednesday, Moyer was reading happily
to both, sounding out words and asking Otermat for help whenever a word
gave her a little trouble.
"At first, Emily was really nervous," Otermat said. "But since
then, she's really been coming out of her shell.
" ... The light in her eyes means the world to me."
Once the book was finished, Moyer had some playtime with the almost
pony-sized canine, enticing him into tricks with doggy treats. He played
dead, shook hands and barked on command, among other spectacles. Smiling,
Moyer exclaimed a delighted, "Yuck!," from time to time, wiping Moose's
slobber from her fingers onto her jeans.
With incentive like that, Moyer and Otermat aren't the only ones
who enjoy the program. Upon arrival at the school, Moose's whole body
wagged to compensate for his docked tail. He rested contentedly on the
carpet while Moyer read to him, all the while being petted by adoring
fans. And he gleefully devoured treats as they were made available.
"The animals love it," Buchele said. "I really think they do. They're
always ready to go and get such complete attention. You can tell they're
excited -- their tails are always wagging."
back to top
(Assistance In Disability)
Are you physically disabled? Do you own a dog? Dog AID
(Assistance In Disability) is a
U.K. nationwide charity, which specialises in helping the physically
disabled to train their OWN pet dogs. Unique in offering 2 levels
of training, owners have the option of training towards Level 1, in which
they simply educate their pets in becoming an obedient companion, or, in
suitable cases, to train towards Level 2, Assistance Level. At this
level, dogs are trained to perform specialised tasks (retrieving items by
name, fetching help in emergencies, opening/shutting doors, etc.), which are
tailored to the needs of each individual owner. Assistance Dogs are
invaluable in providing their owners with greater personal independence.
If you would like help in training your dog, are interested in becoming
a voluntary trainer under the Dog AID umbrella, or can help us with sponsorship
or fundraising, visit us now on http://www.dogaid.org.uk
for further information.
Back to top
Hearing Dogs for the
a pet will help you through divorce, claims research
Owning a pet can
be very beneficial during separation, divorce, or other stressful events:
it reduces stress and blood pressure, offers unconditional love and acceptance,
and provides you with a new area of attention and responsibility to turn
you away from your negative feelings. Even though a pet can't fully take
the place of a solid, loving human relationship, it can temporarily fill a
void of non-judgmental love and emotional anchorage.
A study in the new issue of Psychosomatic Medicine reveals that pets
may be more effective in reducing stress than significant others are, in
fact. Conducted at the State University of New York in Buffalo, the research
is based on the observations of 240 married couples, half of whom owned
a dog or cat. Each subject performed "stress tasks", once in their spouses'
presence and once in their pets', while the researchers monitored the participants'
blood pressure and heart rate. The two "stress tasks" were solving a series
of arithmetic problems mentally and holding one hand in ice water for two
The subjects tended to make more mistakes in the math problems and feel
more stress in the water test when their spouses were present. Those with
pets generally scored better in the arithmetic problems when the pets were
present, and they also reacted to (and recovered from) the water test more
effectively with their pets nearby. There were no apparent differences
between the results of those with dogs and those with cats.
"The findings demonstrate that pets can buffer reactivity to acute stress
as well as diminish perceptions of stress," head study writer Dr. Karen
Allen told The Globe and Mail. "While the idea of a pet as social support
may appear to some as a peculiar notion, our participants' responses to stress,
combined with their descriptions of the meaning of pets in their lives,
suggest to us that social support can indeed cross species."
A second study in the same journal issue says that arguing with your
spouse can lead to high blood pressure and heart damage.
So the next time you feel stressed and upset, and you don't think your
spouse or partner will be helpful in making you feel better, try cuddling
your dog or cat. You may be surprised at the soothing power of "puppy love".
back to top
PURPOSE OF THE CHARITY
National Charity that organises visits by pet owners who have volunteered
to share their animals - mainly dogs but more recently cats as well - with
others who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to keep a pet of their
BACKGROUND TO THE CHARITY
Founded by Lesley Scott-Ordish in 1983 because she had seen how depressed
and lonely many people in hospitals and homes can become when separated
from their pets.
Lesley had also helped to start Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Dogs
for the Disabled so it was a great loss when she died in 1997.
P.A.T originally shared offices with another charity which Lesley had
started (PRO Dogs) and both charities were based in a residential house in
P.A.T began as a Pilot Scheme in Derbyshire using two Collies, a German
Shepherd Dog and an Old English Sheepdog.
Despite some resistance at first from the medical profession, the benefits
of the scheme - not only to those being visited but also to their carers
- soon became obvious.
The pilot scheme was so successful that it was extended nationally just
six months later.
Since the beginning over 16,000 dogs and about 90 cats have been registered.
Approximately 3,500 PAT dogs are currently active and 90 PAT cats.
The charity operates over the whole of the U.K. and is the largest voluntary
service in Europe, where domestic animals are used for the benefit of people.
P.A.T still operates on a very low administrative budget. During the
past few years the head office has moved from Kent to Reading, then to
Harrow but last year we were able to move to Saunderton near Princes Risborough
- a small, attractive cottage on the site of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.
In addition to the Trustees, the Charity is run by three Regional Directors
- one covering the North and Scotland, one the South West and Wales and
the third Midlands and the South.
The Directors are supported by Area Co-ordinators. These are volunteers
themselves and they assist new volunteers in finding placements and often
accompany them on a first visit.
HOW DOES THE SCHEME WORK?
People hear about P.A.T. and say to themselves - perhaps my dog/cat could
Many people love to do things with their pets, especially if it will
bring happiness to others.
All volunteers must register with the Charity and fill in the usual forms,
providing two references. All registered volunteers are insured for third
party liability by the charity.
DOGS - to be assessed by someone who has been on the accredited
course or a Vet.
There is no minimum or maximum age limit but the dogs must have been
with their owners for at least six months, as the Charity believes this
is the time needed to create the necessary bonding. All the pets must be
vaccinated and free from parasites.
Care is needed when assessing elderly pets, for whilst there is no age
limit the visiting can be quite tiring. The welfare of the animals is paramount.
Size is not an issue. One of the great benefits of PAT dogs is that all
breeds can be suitable - from Great Danes to Chihuahuas. Many PAT dogs are
crossbreeds and we have a lot of rescued dogs. We also have a couple of blind
dogs, a few deaf dogs and several with only three legs. Our most famous PAT
dog is Allen's dog Endal who was trained by Canine Partners
Most important is that the dogs must love people and want to be stroked
and patted. They should not be too excitable or boisterous, given to a lot
of licking or drooling and able to accept titbits gently.
In some situations a certain amount of rough treatment is inevitable
so dogs are always tested to ensure that they accept their ears, paws and
tails being held. They should not be phased by reasonable noise - trays
get dropped as do walking frames, sticks etc.
CATS - to be assessed by a Vet.
How quickly does the cat settle - does it hide from strangers?
How does the cat respond to being handled and/or stroked by a stranger?
When sitting by itself is it hunched up avoiding eye contact?
Is it happy on a harness and lead as it will be required to wear one
at all times when visiting?
Whilst dogs can be any breed, owners too can come from all walks of life.
The minimum age for visiting alone is 18 although one 12 year old visits
with her Mum. We have one lady of 90 who still "works". We have guide dog
owners, volunteers in wheel chairs, Priests, Doctors, nurses, teaches, vets,
office workers, etc.
THE MATCHING PROCESS
It is important that owners and dogs are comfortable in the environment
in which they work otherwise they give up.
Most dogs can cope with most things although some dogs are not comfortable
in excessive noise and some dogs are susceptible to some hospital smells.
Again very calm dogs are needed in wards where there is a lot of equipment
- wires, tubes etc. and very little space - Greyhounds are particularly
good for this.
Some owners have preferences for hospitals where they encounter a changing
environment whilst others prefer a home where they get to know the same
people. Many want to visit children; although some special needs schools
require a very special dog who is quiet, can cope with a lot of noise but
is also able to entertain the children with toys and the like.
WHERE DO WE GO?
Probably most visiting is to Nursing and Residential Homes, but we cover
most hospitals and hospices, and many day centres and special needs schools.
We work with people with learning difficulties and of recent times have
become more involved in dealing with adults and children who are dog phobic.
Phobia can involve quite a few dogs and owners - moving through different
On average most PAT dogs and cats make one visit per week for around
The patients, residents and children of places we visit.
In many environments staff are stressed and seeing the dog will help
to relieve this.
Visitors also benefit - often they run out of things to talk about and
a dog will bring a welcome break.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Much research has been done which shows that animals reduce stress and
stroking an animal can reduce blood pressure. Dogs have been called in
to help with children who are terrified of being examined, etc. Pets have
helped where patients or residents are very disturbed.
Movement of limbs - many patients/residents sit huddled up in a chair
and moving an arm to stroke an animal is good for them. In some situations
working with teachers, occupational therapists etc. it may be appropriate
to groom or walk the dog, or play games.
Stimulation of memory - they remember their own pets and can talk about
It encourages them to talk - often to the dog - but also a group may
start talking amongst themselves. In many cases it may be the first words
spoken since they were taken into a hospital ward or care home.
HOW DO WE BECOME BETTER KNOWN?
Speaking engagements spread the word!
We try to become involved with T.V. and radio whenever possible.
Newspaper pictures and articles - in particular PAT Dog/Cat of the Year.
Invitations to fetes etc.
Various events organised by Regional Directors and Area Co-ordinators.
Whilst Pets As Therapy work can be done alone, many volunteers appreciate
the opportunity to meet with others to discuss their pets and this often
occurs at publicity/fund raising events.
We also have a Junior Club and a Circle of Friends for people who want
to support the charity but do not have a pet of their own.
Wherever possible stress that we need as much help as possible in recruiting
new members and improving our finances. Any help in introducing volunteers
or organizing fund raising events for us would be much appreciated, as
there are many, many establishments waiting throughout the UK desperate
for a PAT visit. Although all volunteers pay an annual subscription this
is not sufficient to fund this very cost effective charity.
END ON A LIGHT-HEARTED NOTE:
No doubt you all have your own stories, but this is one of mine:
We were on a first visit to a nursing home - I am accompanying a new
volunteer with her "Goldie". It was teatime and most of them had a Kit
Kat biscuit. We succeeded in explaining to the residents that chocolate
is bad for dogs without too much trouble. However, the last lady was insistent
on the Kit Kat and eventually succeeded with half of it. She had obviously
taken in that what had been said because when the volunteer went the following
week she had licked the chocolate off so the dog could still have the wafer!
Patients/Residents enjoy the visits
Pets enjoy the fuss and attention - and possibly the titbits
Volunteers enjoy the rewarding experience. There is nothing quite like
walking into a room or ward and seeing eyes light up and arms outstretched
to welcome the pet.
back to top
The above information is simply informational.
It's intent is not to replace the advice of a veterinarian nor to assist
you in making a diagnosis of your pet. Please consult with your own veterinarian
for confirmation of any diagnosis. Your pets life may depend on it.