Lancashire Dogs - Bud, the German Shepherd from Cockerham
PUBLISHED: 00:10 30 May 2013 | UPDATED: 10:44 11 January 2016
At home, Bud is boisterous and full of energy. He greets me with a friendly lick and sweeps empty coffee cups from the table with his frantically wagging tail. But when he's on duty, he is always on his best behaviour, gentle and calm.
Bud works as a Pets As Therapy dog in Lancashire. This charity is unique in that it provides therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and other venues by volunteers with their own dogs and cats.
Bud and his owner, Brenda Sandham, live at Cockerham and regularly visit Laurel Bank Care Home. The purpose is to engage the residents and stimulate conversation. Bud also provides comfort for people who can no longer have their own pets with them. Stroking a dog, it is said, can even lower blood pressure.
Mel Thomas, the general manager of Laurel Bank, says: ‘Animals provide a soothing, calming sensory experience for our residents of any age. The dogs’ antics make our residents smile as they watch them and interact by patting them. They look forward to seeing dogs like Bud.’
Bud, a five year old German Shepherd, is a lion of a dog but when he visits he becomes as gentle as a lamb and Brenda is convinced that he ‘somehow picks up vibes’ and reins in his boisterous instincts.
Brenda has been visiting hospitals and homes for the last 20 years with her dogs and Bud, who was registered as a PAT dog at 18 months, is proving to be a favourite with residents and staff. He is happy to be patted, sometimes vigorously, knows to accept treats gracefully and never jumps up at people. He will sit patiently while Brenda chats and doesn’t turn a hair at sudden noises or disturbances.
When on duty he wears his special identity tag and is always kept on the lead during visits, which usually last an hour..
Brenda has portraits of previous pets are proudly displayed around her house. She radiates enthusiasm as she tells me about their personalities and natural aptitude for therapeutic work. In 2006 her border terrier won the Vetzyme Dog of the Year award for services to society and also a coveted Crufts award.
Bud is a shining example of the type of dog the charity needs. As Brenda sums up his qualities, he is happily bounding around the garden, oblivious to the praise that we are heaping on him and the pleasure that he brings to so many.
Brenda works as an assessor to ensure that dogs have the correct temperament, obedience and attitude to join the scheme. Although a national charity, much work is done through local communities. The charity is working hard to recruit more suitable cats and dogs and you can find out more at www.petsastherapy.org