Volunteering with your dog

Our dogs give us so much joy in our lives. But have you ever thought of spreading that love and joy among those in society who have either never owned a dog or who are no longer able to care for them?

We have owned two Labradors who have volunteered for those less fortunate than us. Pickle, our current one, is almost five and in December 2019 we started visiting a local care home once a week to spend time with the residents, who are generally old and some who have dementia. We do this through a charitable organisation founded in 1983 called Pets as Therapy. They also run an amazing programme for schools called READ2DOGS which helps children who may be nervous or stressed when reading to others communicate better and improves literary skills.

It is an incredible feeling to realise that you can make such a huge difference to the lives of those in a care home (or school) with your pet. Watching the residents’ faces light up with smiles as they see Pickle again is a priceless feeling – and many of them then become quite animated and start telling you about their own lives and the dogs they have loved. The care home staff say “it’s the best thing that happens all week for many of them.”

So if you have a spare hour or so a week (daytime or weekends), and a dog with a calm temperament, why not find out more? The assessment to join the volunteer team is straight forward and relatively simple – you can find information on their website.

We are all so busy in our modern lives now, and it’s hard to find time for everything. But we can assure you that volunteering with your dog will be an incredibly rewarding experience for both you and your pet.

PS: Very sadly we've had to curtail our visits for the moment, but as soon as things improve sufficiently, we'll be right back there.

Pet friendly businesses

Winkie Spiers

Dog trainer and behavioural consultant
Winkie runs puppy classes, one-to-one consultations and social walks. She was brilliant when we consulted her about our dog eating stones, after a costly operation to remove some from her stomach. I would unreservedly recommend her for anything dog related – and her book ‘How to handle living with your dog’ is a brilliant introduction to owning a dog.

Sarah Beale

Dog physiotherapist and hydro therapist.
We first went to see her for treatment when our current Labrador was diagnosed with early signs of hip dysplasia. The difference she has made to our lives is incredible – after about six sessions Pickle was on her way to being back to her usual self – and we were armed with exercises and massage techniques to keep the arthritis at bay as long as we possibly can. I can honestly say that Sarah gave Pickle (and us!) a new lease of life.