It’s a big day for Emma Tyreman and her dog Hansie as they are assessed by Pets As Therapy.
Recently we met Emma Tyreman, a mum of three from Oxford who bravely managed to overcome a fear of dogs she had suffered following an attack by a friend’s pet.
Now the loving owner of a 19-month-old cocker spaniel called Hansie, Emma knows first-hand what a difference this fantastic four-legged fella has made to her life, and how much he is cherished by her family.
As a result, she wants to support others in her community, and, with the help of Hansie, make them smile. Emma had picked up a leaflet about Pets As Therapy (PAT) while at a dog-training session with Hansie, and she was keen to find out more about how she could get involved with the charity.
“I called the number on the leaflet. The person I spoke to said she’d e-mail me information about how to become a volunteer and the criteria I needed, and Hansie, too, to pass an assessment,” Emma recalls. “I was told to get back in touch when I felt ready to proceed.”
“To be honest, I was going to wait until Hansie was a little older. He still occasionally pulls on the lead, but I was eager to see what the assessment involved, and willing to get feedback so I could work on any problems before trying again.” All breeds, large and small, make great PAT Dogs, but the dog itself must be over nine months old, and have been with its owner for at least six months.
After receiving an application from a prospective volunteer, PAT then arranges for a Temperament Assessment to take place. This is to check that a dog is sociable and friendly, is adaptable in unfamiliar environments, and remains calm when being stroked or handled.
“I met assessor Anne Clilverd and she instantly made me feel at ease.” Emma smiles. “Anne asked me questions about why I wanted to be a PAT Volunteer, and a little about my background and family life. She was also keen to know more about Hansie’s personality, and how he interacted with others.”
Anne – not only an assessor but also the Chair of the Pets As Therapy Board – put Hansie through his paces. “She tested him on his table manners, and dropped a heavy box of batteries on the ground near him to see how he reacted. Anne also touched and stroked Hansie, and watched how he behaved.
“She watched me, too, noting how I responded and kept control of my pet. “We spoke about different local establishments that wanted a visit from a PAT Dog, and also about the support I could receive.”
Emma and Hansie were then invited inside the community centre, and introduced to a gentleman there. “He was a stranger to us, but Anne wanted to see how Hansie responded. It was lovely that he just sat down happily and allowed the man to greet him.”
Noting that Hansie was bright and alert, with such a gentle demeanour, and seeing Emma as a confident and caring owner, Anne was in no doubt that the pair should be welcomed to PAT.
“When I was told I was a suitable new recruit, I felt overjoyed,” Emma says. “I was so incredibly proud of Hansie.”
Now with paperwork being sorted, Emma is patiently waiting for her ID badge to arrive.
“I can’t wait to get to work! Next on the agenda is another catch-up with Anne, who is my area co-ordinator, to discuss more about the establishments I can visit. “I also need to order a PAT uniform for myself, and a nice yellow bandana for Hansie to wear. He’s going to look great.”