Volunteer profile: Meet Lynne Wadsworth & Friendship Dog, Spud

“In 2012, my beautiful mam was diagnosed with dementia. This changed our lives forever. My dad cared for Mam and I made the decision in 2016 to leave my job as a teaching assistant to help him with her care. 

Mam’s main need was to be out and about mixing with people and having fun, so I took her to various groups, her favourite was Rhythm NOT Blues.  Here she could dance to her heart’s content and the volunteers were so supportive and always went out of their way to make Mam happy. 

A few years went by and my husband and I made the decision to get a dog;  our girls were ecstatic!   I looked into breeds and Schnoodles kept coming up as being good therapy dogs so I was confident that this would be a perfect breed to have around Mam.  Along came Spud and our lives changed again!

Spud immediately became part of our family and was brilliant with Mam. He knew not to jump up at her and was really gentle around her. Whenever Mam slept he’d curl up soundly next to her and Mam loved having Spud around, he kept us both company throughout the day.  

I took him everywhere with me and Mam.  Rhythm Not Blues were delighted when he came along with us to the group, he was able to lift everyone’s spirits.  I knew then I had to share this special dog with others so I discovered Wag & Company and applied to become a volunteer.

I took Spud to dog training classes and our dog trainer – Lee from The School of Dogs – put special classes on for us to help with Spud’s training to pass the Wag assessment.  Spud passed just before lockdown and our lives changed again.

We were now in a situation where I couldn’t take Mam anywhere and we were isolated in the house. This is where Spud came into his own. He rarely left Mam’s side. She loved watching him play and do tricks and when she was sleepy he always lay with her. He was such a help to us both during this time. Sadly my Mam passed away in Oct 2020. It was a tough time and I wasn’t sure if I could ever do any volunteering again.

That was until I got a phone call from Wag asking me if I could visit Jim and his wife, a couple who they thought would really benefit from our visits;  I listened to the story and knew we had to help.  I’m so happy we made the decision to visit them. Spud loves going to see them and they love having him there. I can really see what a difference he’s making even in the short time we’ve been visiting. 

Not long after that, Rhythm Not Blues started up again so I decided to go back with Spud as a way of saying thank you to them for making Mam so happy.   I’ll admit it was very hard going without Mam but so worth it when we saw our old friend Frank.  His eyes lit up when he saw Spud and told me that he’d really missed us.  Spud cuddled into Frank for most of the session it was so heart warming to see. 

Spud has helped so many people in his 3 years but especially me. He’s been by my side throughout  some very difficult times and I’m very happy to share him so hopefully he can share his love and help others.”

 

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