“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
Hello. My name is Jed and I’m a registered PAT dog. PAT means Pets as Therapy. I’ve been in this line of work for the past 4 years now. My work has been varied. Work with women, visiting care homes for older people (my oldest ever client being 90) and currently a service for people who are homeless. Aside from this I am a popular member of my local community and often evoke discussion amongst the locals due to my mischievous behaviour – I tend to borrow food and not return it.
I thoroughly enjoy my current job. My latest shift has just finished and before taking a sleep I thought I would offer a reflection on the a day in the life of a PAT dog.
6am: Early start! My eyes open and my house mate who’s an Occupational Therapist wakes me with breakfast. We then have a gentle stroll round the block. I like the park – so peaceful, lots of trees and sometimes other dogs. It helps me clear my mind for the busy day ahead. I understand some wise humans talk walks, enjoy nature and do things that help clear their minds in the morning too.
7am: Nice chill out time in the car. Just got time to power nap and feel super refreshed for whatever the day might throw my way. Power napping is cool.
8am: Ahh, we’ve arrived, I’m always so happy to hear the word ‘work’ and have a spring in my step as I leave the car ( I understand many humans don’t have this experience). I’m met at the door by staff and service users at the homeless centre. I hear them say it’s nice to see a dog around the place and they pay me lots of compliments about how affectionate and loving I am. It makes me feel good. Maybe I am a real people dog. They say I bring a sense of calm to the place which helps combat stress.
9am: We’re working at a Christian charity at the moment and I’m most welcome in the chapel. I find it relaxing to listen to the prayers and this often ends with loads more attention from staff who attend – they just can’t get enough of me. The sense in the chapel is very calm and we think about the people we are going to work with. This calm and peace is a good way to start a day. Whether we are religious or not, having a peaceful space for staff to meet and start the day really works well.
9.30am: Bit of a chill out time in the office while my housemate gets her act together and gathers information she needs for various ventures throughout our day. These moments of chilling out help a lot.
10am: I met a person who’s not feeling so good today. They’re having a really rough time by the sounds of it. Luckily for me this mean’s I get my back tickled the whole way through the discussion between them and my housemate. I think they probably find it as soothing having me by their side as I do them. Conversation just seems to flow when I’m around. I can see in their face that they haven’t had an easy life. I can also sense in their words and intonations that they are looking to the future – trying to build a better life. It’s very touching to my old canine heart to see this. It shows me that hope helps, change is possible and that we can all play a part.
11am: Its getting busy here – more and more people arriving at the day centre. I avoid the dining room as I just can’t resist the temptation of the tasty 3 course meal that’s served and the bread and other snacks that’s left out for people to take. I meet and greet people at the door. This attention is just great! Apparently people like to see a dog around the place. People reminisce that they had a dog just like me in the past and start to plan for what they might like in the future – apparently a companion like me would be perfect – this is doing wonders for my confidence! It feels good to be accepted and I wonder if that is what the centre is really all about – it accepts people as they are and tries to support them.
11.30am: It’s pretty hot outside today so we moved to a side room where people can call in to say hello as they pass. As people fuss me this seems to lead to all sorts of discussions with my house mate. One person mentioned they loved walking like us but their feet are so sore right now because their socks are worn out – luckily there’s a well-stocked cupboard of clothes here so a few well cushioned pairs were provided for the road. Again I see pain and hope in people’s faces and stories. I get a cuddle. I know not everybody likes cuddles but here they seem to help people.
12.30: Nap time – got to admit I love it. I snore loudly in our office to make sure I keep my colleagues awake after our lunch so they can get their work done. I’d prefer they didn’t type so loudly.
2pm: One last visit before we go home. I’m meeting a few people on a regular basis. They find it soothing and motivating when I’m around apparently. We go a walk together around the outside of the building – people really seem to like to walk and talk. They mention how this is a nice part of their routine too – and apparently it makes them feel responsible having me to walk. I think I’m a pretty independent chap but they’re keen I’m on a lead. I suppose I don’t know this area of town that well yet. Its good spending all this time with people. Many have had hard lives and this is all about people having a second, third, many chances at a life and a future.
3.30pm: One little breather in the office before home. All in all it’s been a good day. I’ve been fussed. I’ve had my back scratched and my belly rubbed. And I’ve met lots of interesting people who seem to appreciate my presence and work. I think I’ll stick to this line of work for a while. If I can make a difference to others and get a few treats along the way that sounds good. It seems us 4-legged folk are an important part of people’s lives. Thank you for reading my ramblings. Anyway it’s time for another nap – go well and look after each other
JED ( with help from Rebecca Wint and John Walsh )