Brace yourself… the PAT dogs are coming! That’s right, the most anticipated and exciting event on campus is here again! Read to find out more about what the charity Pets as Therapy do and how to sign up for your termly puppy cuddles… by Daryl Johnson
Dogs are great. I would go so far as to say that they are in fact, the best. I am a dog person and my colleagues will attest to my unbearable excitement when the Study Happy PAT Dog events come around. Not to incite jealousy or anything but some days I struggle to believe that part of my job is to pat, cuddle and photograph dogs. If you’ve been before, I don’t think I need to explain why PAT Dogs is the most popular event on the Study Happy roster. Simply being in the company of a gentle, affectionate pup is a joyful experience. If you haven’t, I hope to see you this term.
I’ve had my dog, Lenny (aka. Lionel McFlufflybutt, see below) for a little over 2 years. He is an adorable, loppy-eared, hyperactive, brindle ball of excitement. I get jumped on and wiggled at when I come home and receive an unending barrage of licks and affection when I stay seated for longer than 6 seconds. Most of these behaviours sadly make him unsuitable to be a PAT Dog volunteer but he is still a wonderful companion and I can personally attest to how sensitive dogs can be to emotional cues.
In spite of all his outward energy, when a member of his pack displays signs of sadness, Lenny will do what he can to provide comfort and reassurance. Usually that means he will just sit or lie by us quietly and as closely as he can until the situation has resolved itself, and his presence is undeniably comforting. I’m sure many dog owners experience this and it exemplifies just one of the many reasons why the work that the Pets As Therapy charity do is so important.
The PAT volunteers go wherever they’re needed. They go to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools, and the University of Warwick. We’re incredibly lucky to have them. Their aim is to ‘enhance health and wellbeing in the community through the visits of trusted volunteers with their behaviourally assessed animals’ and they achieve this with their visits and involvement in special projects.
Have you ever felt stressed or worried about public speaking? Dogs can help with that. The PAT Charity runs the Read2Dogs special project. By going into schools and giving children the opportunity to read to a dog, the ‘PAT Dogs provide comfort, encourage positive social behaviours, enhance self-esteem, motivate speech and inspire young people to have fun.’ Some of the most adorable advice to a classroom teacher I think I’ve ever read is ‘if your PAT Dog falls asleep, tell the student he is just closing his eyes so he can concentrate on the story.’ Not sure you’d get away with that in your next lecture but you can try.
Though we unfortunately can’t offer you a PAT Dog to practice your presentation to, you can sign up for a slot to come and pat a pup and enjoy the company of the lovely PAT Dog volunteers. I guarantee it will brighten your day. The PAT Charity volunteers will be with us in the Library in Term 3, May 3rd (week 2) and May 14th (week 4). It’s a sign-up event and we’ll be posting links to moodle on our social media so make sure you’re following us on Facebook and Twitter. See you there!
For those of you with allergies or just don’t like dogs (we’re not judging), we have a lot more going on to keep your spirits up this term. Keep an eye out on our Facebook events page for updates on our Language Exchange, Mindfulness sessions and Creative Chillouts.
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Image 1: Author’s own.