Monthly Archives: June 2014

Are You a Cat or a Dog Person?

Are you a cat or a dog person?

Me – I’m both, and I have a theory. You see, I’m not convinced there’s actually such a thing a thing as a “cat person” or a “dog person” even though I hear people bandy these phrases around regularly enough.

Take my husband. He thought he wasn’t a “cat person” until he met me and fast realised that I came as a package with my ragdoll cat, Chicken. (Yes – ‘Chicken’ . . . so what?) Since living together and being married we have ended up fostering and adopting several different cats and dogs, and dispite his insistance on not being a cat person, he is regularly found tickling our big black cat Fluffbomb’s ears, and reffering to him as “my boy”, or playing with Chicken in the back garden.

Not a cat person my arse!

Likewise with some of my moggie loving friends. They’ll come over and rave about the feline members of the household, keeping at arms length the canine compardres.

“Sorry – I’m not really a dog person.”

But within the hour, I can guarentte that the hounds will be getting their heads patted and their ears rubbed.

I’m not saying people don’t have prefences – of course they do. I just find this whole “Cat Vs Dog” thing a bit bizarre. We don’t do it with any other pet types, do we?

“No thanks, I’d rather sit away from the tank. I’m not really a goldfish person.”

“Tortoise? OOooh no, I’m more of a gerbil kinda guy.”

I think you’re either an animal person or you’re not. End of. Correct me if I’m wrong, but people either understand the very deep and irriplacable love we have for our Furrbuddies, or it’s a complete hairy, slobbery, scratchy, noisy, expensive restrictive mystery.

Now I quite understand this may sound a little condescending – but I feel sorry for people who are not animal people. I know I couldn’t imagine my life without my four-legged friends to greet me at the start of each day, on return from a stressful day at work, or on quiet evenings, when a head on your lap or a whiskered face brushing your cheek serves only to remind us how lucky we are to share our lives in this way.

As the french poet Anatole France put it:

Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

What about you? Are you a cat or a dog person? A fish or a gerbil person?

Or like me, just an animal person?

 

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Our First Visit – P.A.T

So in our last post we were all thrilled with the news that Annabel had passed her assessment to be a Pets As Therapy dog. Yes we were – not just me. Well, we didn’t waste much time, and started our venture together today at the local nursing home. I am pleased to report that Annabel was a super star and did her new job to perfection. I was pretty sure I’d enjoy the experience, but I was unprepared for how moving it was.

It was a lovely establishment, with wonderful staff and a nice atmosphere. I was nervous signing in and going through into the day room, but the faces that lighted up on seeing my girl trot in to say hello melted away the nerves in a heartbeat.

L has bright blue eyes and a lovely smile. He was thrilled when Annabel put her head on his lap, calling over the nurse to have a look “She likes me! See?” and telling me all about the Labrador he had as a young married man.

D is a happy soul but doesn’t retain much short-term memory or new information. She forgets my name every few seconds and asks the same questions over and over again. D is really friendly and I instantly like her.  “I can’t stroke her lovey,” she tells me “my hands are twisted, look” and she shows me her hands in a fixed position, I imagine due to arthritis. “Perfect for tickling her head with D. She likes that.” D smiles and tickles Annabel’s head. Annabel does indeed like it, and grunts appreciatively making D laugh.

We are then taken by a nurse to visit some private rooms, where I meet a wonderfully sharp and well dressed lady I could’ve talked to for hours, who is fascinated by the charity and the work we do. A few rooms down is a resident who seems totally in her own world. This second lady doesn’t speak to me, but spends a long time very slowly stroking Annabel’s head and whispering in her ear. I wonder what they were talking about? None of my business.

The last person in a private room we see is a very frail looking, tiny women curled in her bed and sighing deeply. Bless her, I think. In we go . . .  Annabel wags her tail and puts her head onto the bed, and the lady springs to life making me jump a little. She is literally squealing with delight and laughing out loud at my lovely lurcher’s gentle hand-licks. “Fantastic!” She cries out. “Ooooh, isn’t she lovely. OOoh ‘hello beautiful!'”

As we travel back down with the nurse in the lift, she agrees that seeing the faces light up as we introduce ourselves is a very special thing, and I am surprised to feel a little emotional.

Back in the day room for a quick goodbye, some family have arrived to visit some of the residents, who point to Annabel and introduce her to their loved ones, seemingly enjoying being the giver of some different news rather that the receiver. As we are walking out the door D shouts over “Bye bye Annabel.”

And that’s why it works. Pets As Therapy give people in nursing homes the chance to be the one to impart care for a change. They give people the pleasure and chance of an unconditional cuddle, or chat that does not require a response. They make people smile. They encourage reminiscence of previous dogs the client may have owned and loved, and comfort those who may have had to give up a pet to be there. As the charity themselves put it:

“These dogs bring everyday life closer and with it all the happy associations for them of home comforts. The constant companionship of an undemanding animal, that gives unconditional love, is often one of the most missed aspects of their lives. Pets As Therapy was formed to help make this loss more bearable.” – P.A.T

We are going back next Saturday.

Photo: Our first official visit to a nursing home 󾌵 #PetsAsTherapy

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