The Therapet service provides friendly, sociable dogs and owners to go along to care homes and to other people who might appreciate a visitor with a wet nose and waggy tail.
Therapets is operated by the Canine Concern Scotland charity and is aimed at promoting the therapeutic value of dogs to patients or isolated from normal association with pets.
There are currently over 500 pedigree, crossbreed and mongrel Therapet dogs in Scotland.
One of those is four-year-old Labrador Fudge from Glenbranter. Fudge had a ball last week as she visited Invereck Care Home with owner and Therapet volunteer David Brown.
David said: “She loves getting all the attention, and the care home residents are delighted to see her. They tell me they look forward to her visits.”
Fudge and David make regular visits to Erskine Care Home for ex-service men and women, and also to Ashgrove and Invereck Care Homes more locally.
“Relatives and staff tell me they can see the care home residents brightening up and there is a real value to the Therapet service.”
For a dog to be considered as a Therapet, it must be at least a year old, in good health and have been owned by the human volunteer for a minimum of six months.
The ideal animal for the job is, of course, one that is sociable and friendly, outgoing and not too boisterous. Before being accepted as a Therapet, all dogs are assessed for suitability, and in Cowal this is carried out by area representatives Margaret McRae and Gina MacCanna at Dunarg School for Dogs.
Volunteers must become insured through Canine Concern Scotland and be willing to make regular visits so that a routine is established. Visits are made to cheer and comfort the elderly, children and disabled people in care homes, hospitals or hospices and at the homes of house-bound people.
David Brown, who freely admits to being 71 years of age, added: “There is always a need for more dogs to be Therapets. Dogs don’t last forever – and neither do their handlers!
“I would encourage dog owners to think about volunteering for this valuable service.”
For further information and a registration pack, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 553 0034
With the curtesy of the Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard.
This article appeared in the paper on the 22nd May 2015
The article was written by Colin Cameron and the photo is by Archie Fergusson