An unusual visitor
The pros and cons of pet therapy
I was three weeks into my placement in elderly medicine and prepared for the usual goings on of the day. Arriving on the ward in the morning, however, I was surprised to see a large, friendly looking dog in a fluorescent yellow jacket sitting at the nurses’ station. My immediate reaction was to assume that he was a guide dog, but I didn’t dwell on it, other than to consider the matron’s predictable reaction when she arrived to see that a dog had taken up residence on her ward. Midway through the morning I saw the dog again, now with an older woman, and they seemed to be wandering around the ward, visiting patients.
It turned out that the woman was a volunteer with a charity called Pets as Therapy (PAT), and her dog was a Leonberger. PAT was founded in 1983 and aims to provide therapeutic visits to patients