PAT Stories

Johanne Picken & Ness

Ness will often take me to the people who she feels need her the most. It’s almost as if she knows what’s required of her.”

Johanne Picken from Paisley is a PAT Volunteer with her five-year-old greyhound Ness. Together they visit Lancefield Care Home in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, where they bring smiles to many faces.

“Ness is a retired racing dog and she’s a lovely girl,” Johanne smiles. “As soon as we walk through the gates to the home, her tail starts wagging and she gets all bouncy with excitement. Ness knows she’s about to receive lots of cuddles and no doubt some tasty treats.”

Johanne says Ness is a wonderful PAT Dog. “She will often take me to the people who she feels need her the most. It’s almost as if she knows what’s required of her. With the more interactive residents, she will go right up to them and sniff them and allow them to stroke her extremely soft coat. However, with others, she’ll just stand quietly next to them for a while. It doesn’t seem to bother her whether a person speaks to her or pets her, she’ll stand there for a few moments then move on.”

The joy of volunteering
Johanne became a PAT Volunteer at the end of 2023. “I got involved with Pets As Therapy as I know all too well what happiness animals bring to people. I previously worked as the British dressage para rep for Scotland and saw first-hand the joy, as well as the mental and physical benefits that even just being around horses bring. I know that dogs bring the same happiness and joy to people.

“I had heard about the charity a few years ago and realised that volunteering with Pets As Therapy involves two of my favourite things – dogs and people. Ness is a very affectionate dog and loves getting fussed over, so her role fits her perfectly.”

A special lady
It’s not just the Lancefield residents who look forward to spending time with Ness, the staff love her too. “I think Ness has a beneficial effect on everyone. They all smile when they see her. Even though we’re only at the care home for a short time, my docile, gentle dog seems to brighten people’s day.

“Ness is a very special wee lady. As I said, her coat is super soft, almost velvety, which everyone who meets her comments on. And she must be one of the friendliest dogs on the planet. She often follows other dog walkers when we are out walking, to the point where I have to go and fetch her!”

And when she’s back home, what does she enjoy doing? “Oh, Ness loves nothing better than to lie upside down and fall asleep on the sofa.”


We are always looking to recruit more volunteers.

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