What is a Therapy Dog?
Therapy Dogs are kind and gentle companion animals that have been assessed to ensure that they can be of reliable comfort and support to those who need them.
Doug is a registered Therapy Dog with a UK charity called Pets As Therapy.
For Doug to be recognised as a Therapy Dog, he had to be thoroughly assessed and examined by a registered vet. Pets As Therapy needed to trust in Doug’s good nature and reliable temperament before registering him officially with their organisation.
Therapy Dogs visit people in care homes, hospitals, hospices and schools. This is done on a voluntary basis (willingly and without financial reward).
Pets As Therapy is sometimes shortened to PAT – so, dogs like Doug are sometimes known as 'pat' dogs. Because of this, some people think that Doug spends his working days just being patted.
Many Therapy Dogs enjoy being patted throughout their working day - but Doug the Pug, and other Therapy Dogs like him, much prefer working with those who need a little more tender loving care and special attention.
Who is Doug the Pug the Therapy Dog?
Doug the Pug the Therapy Dog is a wonderfully sweet natured dog - full of benevolent and philanthropic intentions. In a nutshell, this means he is well meaning and kind and generous and charitable.
Doug works as a Therapy Dog and also as a Reading Dog (more about these noble professions later!). Doug goes to work willingly and without receiving any financial reward (this is more commonly known as ‘working voluntarily’).
He’s a baggy, soppy little dog. Perfect for a Therapy Dog. His sweet nature enables him to love each and every one of his working days.
Doug’s pleasures are simple. In addition to a keen interest in modern literature, and a good lap on which to snuggle, Doug likes a warm sunny spot for regular snoozes and generous meals presented promptly at an agreeable time.
Doug rarely ventures out doors during inclement weather – or even when mildly damp underfoot. If Doug understood the concept of hibernation, he would most certainly secure the friendship of a kindly hedgehog, between October and March, to share a favourite spot.
Doug the Pug lives and works in Buckinghamshire and in London with his adoring human and animal family who indulge him unapologetically.
Doug has been working as a Therapy Dog since December 2011.
Who does Doug the Pug work with?
Doug often works with those who need a real boost of confidence or a kind sympathetic ear. Doug is a really great listener and has a very warm and comforting nature.
Doug is also perfect for those who suffer from anxiety or stress. Doug gives a wonderful sense of calm to those who share his company.
Some of Doug’s young friends have difficulties in their learning or in managing positive behaviour.
Many of Doug’s little friends appear, for a short while, to have lost their love of learning.
Doug also works with those who may, for whatever reason, have lost their way a little.
Others may have difficulties due to limited mobility.
Doug also works with those who would like help with their reading.
And, sometimes, Doug works with those who have no difficulties in anything
What does Doug the Pug do?
Doug can be a really great motivator in the classroom. Having Doug appear at the desk of someone who has not yet begun work can be a great way to get a child started. Doug will either stay to watch his young friend work, or come back later to see how his friend is getting along.
Time with Doug can also be given as a reward for fabulous work! Special time with Doug is a great bonus for those who’ve worked really hard and is often more warmly received than a big tick or a ‘well done’ sticker!
Doug loves school nurture groups too. Here, he joins a small friendly group around a table and enjoys the sort of conversation and turn taking that a family might share during a meal. Nurture groups are great for children finding it hard to work within a classroom environment or those who benefit from small intimate groups for social learning.
Doug can also help de-stress those awaiting exams or assessments. Stress is said to slow down the processing of information necessary for working things out and remembering things. Doug helps to create a sense of calm and well-being helping his friends concentrate and focus on their studies.
Some of Doug’s friends have little positive physical contact in their lives. Safe physical comfort and expression with Doug may help these young people form and sustain physical relationships in later life without isolating themselves further and becoming totally withdrawn.
Doug also works on the Pets As Therapy READ2DOGS scheme as a Reading Dog. Here, children read to Doug out loud. Doug doesn’t correct and most certainly never interrupts. These children are then able to work towards regaining confidence in their learning in a safe non-threatening environment.
Doug also visits schools in Buckinghamshire and Greater London. He recently enjoyed a morning in a west London primary school where the children heard all about Doug’s work. They then enjoyed a Doug cuddle and took turns taking him for little walks. Doug also had fun visiting a group of 11 year olds in central London. They had been working through a science project on animals. None of these children had previously ‘met’ a dog.
School children often present Doug with delightful pictures for “Doug’s bedroom wall” (which is indeed exactly where they are).
And, Doug recently received a positive mention in an Ofsted school
How does Doug’s work help?
Spending time with a trustworthy and predictable companion animal like Doug, that is gentle and kind, is said to reduce stress and anxiety.
Stress creates a real barrier to learning and prevents absorbing new information. Stress also slows down the processing of information necessary for working things out and remembering things.
Doug’s gentle nature helps to create a sense of calm and well-being. This helps his friends concentrate and focus on their studies.
Reading out loud to dogs like Doug is said to build confidence in speaking and reading while also aiding fluency. Readers appear less hesitant and their feelings of fear are reduced when speaking in the classroom and meeting new people.
The anticipated reward of special time with Doug acts as a great motivator and encourages a recognition and acceptance of self worth.
Socially interacting with a companion animal like Doug boosts emotional connection and helps develop language skills.
Through learning to nurture, appreciate and care for animals, children develop a respect and value for all life.
Walking with Doug, or climbing on to a sofa or bean-bag for a shared story, uses many muscle groups and will aid mobility. Much more fun than exercises alone!
The trust and companionship of a dog like Doug can help make a positive difference to many children’s experiences of school life and childhood.
Doug skips into work each day with a happy little trot. Although seen by many as purely altruistic (kindly and helpful in a charitable way), helping others is said to improve health, happiness and longevity (long life). So, it really is quite wonderful that such kindness shown to others is of enormous benefit to us all.
More about Therapy Dogs like Doug and the work they do