Pudding the therapy dog has made a big impact on Wandsworth’s Share Community since she started visiting the charity’s training and wellbeing site, for people with learning disabilities and autism, in January.
According to Claire Smith, Share’s Independent Living Manager: “Pudding has been a real asset to Share Community. Her weekly visits have given students a chance to build their confidence around dogs and have provided a calming presence. Students look forward to their sessions and have built a strong bond with Pudding.”
Students look forward to their sessions and have built a strong bond with Pudding.”
A young Jack Russell, Pudding is a therapy dog with Pets As Therapy, a national charity that enhances the wellbeing of thousands of people across the UK by giving them access to the companionship of an animal.
Therapy animals provide humans with multiple benefits. They offer comfort and mental stimulation, can lower anxiety, and help people feel less lonely. Dogs in particular have a sensitivity to human emotion, and non-judgemental nature, which makes them perfect therapy animals, lifting people’s mood and provide a calm and soothing presence.
Students who choose to meet with Pudding do so in a dedicated relaxation room, away from regular training sessions. Says Claire: “She’s a young sociable dog, giving great pleasure to those she interacts with. Students have the chance to spend one-to-one time with her, giving her a stroke.
Many of our students really look forward to the visits, even if it’s just a quick pat and a ‘hello’.”
“A few students were scared around dogs, but were also curious. At first, they just looked and waved. The regularity of the visits gave them the chance to build up to actually meeting Pudding, and now they are relaxed doing so.”
The trips to the training site are so popular that Pudding is now visiting Share’s garden in Tooting to interact with horticulture students. Says Claire, “Many of our students really look forward to the visits, even if it’s just a quick pat and a ‘hello’.”
One student, Matthew, used to be unsure of dogs before Pudding came to the garden. Now he goes over to stroke her every Wednesday. He said, ‘Spending time with Pudding is great!’
This is a great example of the innovative ways in which our local voluntary sector works to improve people’s wellbeing.”
Pudding visits Share with her owner Diana, who said: “It feels good to give up my time to visit the students at Share and help them feel calm by spending time with Pudding.
“Pudding equally enjoys coming to the Share garden. You can see how happy she is when spending time with Share students and developing friendships with them. She remembers them and together they have a relaxing time.”
Mark Creelman, NHS South West London’s Executive Director for Merton and Wandsworth said: “This is a great example of the innovative ways in which our local voluntary sector works to improve people’s wellbeing. I’m sure most of us could benefit from a bit of time with Pudding in our lives.”