Kate has been a volunteer for just over 4 years with her black Labrador Wedgie. We’re so thankful that she gives a great deal of her time to her Wag friends and also to Wag generally.
Wedgie, so called because he was ‘wedged’ during the birth process – yes really… – has made the perfect Friendship Dog, calm, loves people and cuddles, enjoys treats and looks gorgeous in a red bandana….
In Kate’s own words, here’s their story:-
When I retired from the NHS I needed to be doing something that was regular, sociable and active. plus I had a very friendly, placid dog so joining the Wag family was a no brainer!
Wedgie sailed through the temperament test and once I had cleared the DBS checks, we were ready to start. Wag matched us to a local nursing home which was easy for us to walk to across the moor and I liaised with the Homes’ activity coordinator who introduced us to new patients and updated me on others. The residents look forward to their weekly visits from Wedgie and he is rewarded with cuddles, back rubs and snacks of apple and carrot! The presence of a dog seems to unlock the residents’ memories and I love hearing their stories of cherished family pets. I enjoy seeing the smiles on faces and increased animation in some people, especially from those suffering with dementia.
About a year after starting to volunteer with Wag, I was able to take on another placement – this time visiting a gentleman in Gosforth. Jack was living on his own but was quite lonely as his wife had been moved into nursing care. She suffered from dementia and didn’t recognize him anymore which made his regular twice-weekly visits very difficult. He loved dogs and had a great sense of humour so we quite quickly built up a good friendship which he enjoyed and we soon had him smiling again. Unfortunately, Jack passed away in early 2020 but I know from his daughter that he benefitted from our regular visits to his house.
In October 2019, I started volunteering at Connie Lewcock Resource Centre – a residential rehabilitation unit in Lemington. I had been a physiotherapist there during my NHS career so I knew the place and many of the staff already. Wedgie was a huge hit with the staff and the patients and even has his own notice board there! We often join in with the exercise group or the crafting group in the day room – as long as Wedgie gets cuddles and the odd snack, he is happy!
I now visit another dog-lover in a care home in Benwell – we first met Judith in the rehab unit and then followed her to her own home and then through a hospital admission to the care home where she is now settled. As she has no family, our weekly visits have been very welcome and she showers Wedgie with attention and Bonios – she tells him it’s the highlight of her week!
In addition to the regular visiting, I have been able to help with other Wag activities Corporate Friends of Wag events, Charity fund-raising events, assisting in the induction of Wag office staff, website redevelopment and various photo shoots.
I am so lucky to be involved with a charity that makes such a difference to people’s lives and that I get to do the work with my lovely dog – it’s a win-win all round!