Volunteer profile: Emma-Jane Phillips

Lilith is a ‘pampered princess’ who adores cuddles and tummy rubs – perfect for a Friendship Dog!  Her favourite treats are cheese and sausages (….did say she was pampered) and as well as her Wag bandana, she can often be found in fabulous outfits...

In Emma-Jane’s own words, here’s their story:-

“I have always had dogs in the household since I was a child and now I have two of my own – cuddle monster Lilith and also Liza the Labradoodle, my assistance dog.  

Liza is super clever and trained in medical alerts and mobility support through the pompom (panic button).  Lilith just likes to ride on my knee in my wheelchair … like a little canine princess!

My grandparents both lived close to us and loved our dogs.  Granddad would often take the Yorkie out for walks and you would see him going down the street talking away to ‘Grandad’s very best friend’.   When I saw a post about Wag on Facebook one day I immediately thought of Grandad and how happy he would have been to have something like this when he was living in his home and missing the chance to care of a dog of his own due to his fragility being in his 90’s.

Once Lilith and I had passed all our assessments and DBS check we were matched to Susan, a lady in Sunderland who lived  in sheltered accommodation. Susan wasn’t that much older than me, a huge dog lover,  but she wasn’t allowed pets where she lived.   Susan and Lilith immediately bonded, though I’m not sure Lilith understands that she doesn’t own the place!   

We visit every week and when I first started this adventure, I just expected to pop along once a week, sit there for an hour and then head home.  The reality is I get just as much out of the visits as Lilith and Susan do.   The conversations we have about all sorts of things enhance my view of the world, there’s so much we can learn just from hearing the life stories and experiences of others.  

I really look forward to our visits and chats each week and Lilith can often be found in a cheese coma on the sofa where she has her own dedicated cushion!

I never truly realised the positive impact and difference it can make to someone’s life just by giving that hour or so a week with a dog, 

Susan will often say how much she looks forward to our visits, there’s always a plate of treats waiting for Lilith and the time goes very quickly.   

I work full time and I’m a wheelchair user,  so I did worry that I may not be able to fit it all in, but the reality is that it is never really an issue.   I block out my lunch time one day a week and if I do have meetings or have to make changes we do so with no issues, and that works both ways, 

If Susan is having a bad day and cannot face seeing anyone then we arrange a different time and if there is a day where she is struggling and feeling down we’ll bring the visit forward;  it’s as flexible as we both want it to be.

The rewards from volunteering with Wag, exceed anything that I ever expected.  The only thing that I regret is that there was nothing like this around while Granddad was still here, it would have been perfect for him.   If I wasn’t working full time I would definitely take on more people to visit.  it is so rewarding for everyone, so I would, and indeed do, urge anyone who has a dog with the right temperament to come forward and volunteer, it will be the best decision you make!”

It was a great day for Susan and for Wag when you decided to share beautiful Lilith with the Wag world Emma-Jane!