It’s the start of a new year, and Emma Tyreman – a volunteer for Pets As Therapy (PAT) – is visiting a new establishment in her home city of Oxford.
The devoted mum of three only began volunteering with the UK-wide charity in the latter part of 2018, but already she and her trusty little cocker spaniel, Hansie, have spent time at a women’s psychiatric ward, a residential care home, and now the Oxford Centre for Enablement.
“It all happened during an accidental meeting in the park,” Emma explains. “I was out walking with Hansie and started talking to a member of staff from Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, which is part of the Oxford Centre for Enablement. I mentioned my involvement with Pets As Therapy, and she told me the centre would love to have visits from a PAT dog.”
Contact details were scribbled down, and a meeting with occupational therapist Naomi Morgan was arranged. As the centre is so close to the community hospital that the PAT team already visit, it made sense to pop into both places on the same day.
First Visit to Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre
“The enablement centre is for people who have suffered brain injuries,” Emma says. “Our first visit was brief, but it was a nice introduction to Nuffield, and a good way to introduce Hansie to a new environment. He was very keen to meet everyone, though.”
“This time especially, the stool I take for Hansie to stand on was very handy. Most of the patients are in wheelchairs, so it would have been extremely difficult for them to have had any physical contact with Hansie otherwise.”
One patient in particular, a gentleman named John, has quickly formed a special bond with the visiting PAT dog.
“Hansie sees John a lot, and he’s definitely becoming one of his favourites. I feel incredibly proud to think that Hansie is playing a part in the recovery process of people here.”
Chris, another patient at the centre, feels he benefits significantly from Hansie’s visits. “The idea of a therapy dog has in previous times been ridiculed,” he says.
“However, I can say personally that the physical contact with another sentient being is not only important, but essential. The connection with a non-judgemental creature is both heart-warming and stimulating. Hopefully the dog enjoys it, too.”
Emma is making a huge commitment by visiting three establishments, but there are no set requirements on how often volunteers need to undertake visits on behalf of Pets As Therapy.
Regular visits are greatly appreciated by hospitals, hospices, day care centres, residential homes and schools, but each individual can decide how often these happen, and for how long.
“We hope to continue working with Pets As Therapy for many years to come, but it’s been a really good start to Hansie’s career as a therapy dog.”
“I feel he’s done so much in such a short period of time. I love being a PAT volunteer, too, but the trouble is, you just don’t know what’s around the corner.”
One of Emma’s grandsons has been in hospital
One of Emma’s adopted grandsons, Matthew, who is just twelve, has sadly been spending time in hospital himself. “Last year was particularly challenging for us as a family, but especially for Matt and his twin, Josh.”
“After having one eye operation, Matt needed another op some nine weeks later. It’s all been quite traumatic. Hopefully 2019 will prove to be a better year for us.”
“And believe it or not, I would like to get another puppy some time. I think Hansie would love a little brother.”
Catch up with all the other updates from Emma and Hansie.