How 4-legged volunteers help dementia support sessions

Pug dog called Cheka at a Forget-Me-Not session for dementia support in Saffron Walden, Essex

Cheka at a Forget-Me-Not session in Saffron Walden - Credit: submitted

Dementia support sessions in Saffron Walden are being boosted by Pets As Therapy Dogs.

Charlotte Philipps and her PAT Dogs have been regularly attending Forget-Me-Not sessions, held at Fairycroft House.

PAT Dog Nousu is Charlotte's dachshund cross terrier whose name means 'half and half' in Swahili.

Cheka, her good-natured Pug whose name means 'laughter' in the same language, was also a PAT Dog but died in an incident in Henham this year, aged just two and a half.

Forget-Me-Not organisers said that Cheka would be sorely missed as she had made a real difference to visitors' well-being.

Pets As Therapy Dogs with adults at a Saffron Walden dementia support cafe

Pets As Therapy Dogs, at a Saffron Walden support session - Credit: submitted

"Cheka’s legacy is that four-legged volunteers are now part of the weekly running of the group; when the weather is warmer there are plans for the clients to take the dogs for walks."

Charlotte, who has given support to many organisations over the years including Riding for the Disabled, said: "I'm a great believer that animals have an incredibly calming and stimulating effect on people.

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"One person whose attended, their husband said 'the only way I can get her in is because of Cheka'.

"Another one said it was the first time he had seen his wife really smile in a very long time. Cheka was just enchanting with them."

Cheka came from a breeder based in Scotland whose aim is to eradicate some of the current traits of the Pug, such as the squashed nose and popping eyes.

Cheka's breeder has provided another Pug, a relative of Cheka's called Flash Harry. Charlotte hopes he will also become a PAT Dog after suitable training.

The charity Pets As Therapy supports volunteers who visit care homes, hospitals, hospices, schools and prisons with their PAT Dogs and PAT Cats. 

Forget-Me-Not sessions take place in Fairycroft House on Audley Road, Saffron Walden, on Wednesday mornings from 10am to noon. Everyone is welcome.

For further information, call 01799 510525 or email info@volunteeruttlesford.og