Volunteers whose pets provide a little four-legged therapy to people who aren’t able to care for an animal full time have appealed for more people to join the valuable service.
The Therapet scheme sees volunteers and their pets visit hospitals, day centres, nursing homes and special needs schools.
The pets provide companionship and help to create a feel-good atmosphere by putting smiles on people’s
Retired school teacher Carol McLean, from just outside Coupar Angus, and her four-year-old Labrador Bud signed up after Carol saw a picture of a woman with her dog who volunteered for the free service.
Carol explained: “I just thought: ‘What a wonderful idea!’
“They were looking for gentle, good-natured pets and Bud is so used to children and bustle I thought he would be absolutely perfect for the job.”
Carol contacted Harry Greig, who lives in Coupar Angus and is the area representative for Canine Concern – which runs the Therapet service in Scotland.
She continued: “He came out and met Bud and did a wee test and that was it.
“We’ve been doing it for about two years now, and started by going out to Stormont Nursing Home once a week.
“Bud settled in beautifully and we also visit Muirton House Nursing Home and Northlands as well now.”
Carol went on to describe why she feels the service is so worthwhile.
“The benefit to people cannot be underestimated, it is so important, they get so much out of patting the dog.
“Stroking animals is just therapeutic in itself – it slows down the heart rate and reduces blood pressure – and the joy it brings people is just lovely to see.
“Having the dog there is an easy way to start conversations too.
“The staff all like him coming in as well, it breaks up the daily routine a little bit for everyone and brightens everyone’s day.
“And Bud loves it too - you can do anything with him and he loves all the attention. The residents all want to feed him though and I have to say no!”
Carol added: “I love hearing all the stories people tell me.
“One gentleman was 100 years old and had lived in Coupar Angus all his life. He told me so much about the history of the town that I didn’t know – he had vivid memories of days gone by.”
Therapets come in all breeds or cross-breeds, and all sizes. They need to be friendly and outgoing, but not too boisterous.
Carol concluded: “If more people in the area could get involved then we could alternate visits to the different homes.”
Picture: Carol McLean and her Therapet Bud
Article written by Clare Damodaran
This article appeared in the Perth Courier August 2014