Libby Bowles & Pip
“I’ve had dogs most of my life and know what mental health benefits they bring to people. Pip’s funniest feature are his brilliant big ears, which make people smile all the time. I knew he’d be a great therapy dog”
Libby Bowles, from North Devon, volunteers with her seven-year-old PAT Dog Pip, an Andalusian podenco. Together they visit Southmead Primary School in Braunton. Libby previously lived in Bristol, where they were regular visitors to St Mary Redcliffe Primary School.
“Pip is a very calm dog and loves being near his young friends,” says Libby. “He lies down with his head close to them, watching what the children are doing. Sometimes he listens with his eyes closed, mostly he just lies next to them and enjoys being stroked.”
Pip’s school chums read to him and enjoy drawing him too. They have produced lovely signs to put on the door to tell everyone when their PAT Dog is visiting. “I’ve had dogs most of my life and know what mental health benefits they bring to people. Pip’s funniest feature are his brilliant big ears, which make people smile all the time. I want him to spread joy to lots of people and help children who could do with a bit of Pip time in their lives.”
Pip's inspiration - and fame
The delightful little dog didn’t have the best start to life, living on the streets and in an animal rescue centre in Spain, SOS Podenco Rescue. “I like his story to inspire the children who we work with,” Libby continues. “He can instil the belief that we all matter and we can all be great, no matter how our life begins.”
Pip may also inspire people to embark on big adventures – though maybe not one that also causes people to worry. “When I lived in Bristol, Pip got lost in the woods. It happened last September and I spent 90 minutes looking for him and was in such a panic.
"So many people helped me with my search and I later discovered that he’d ran along a road, over Clifton Suspension Bridge and crossed the city of Bristol, all by himself, to get home. He went five miles. I got home about 15 minutes after he did, and he came over for a cuddle and then fell asleep on my lap.”
Pip’s antics were caught on CCTVs and soon his story hit the headlines. Libby found herself on TV, including This Morning and Lorraine, as well as numerous radio shows. It seemed everyone in the UK was talking about Pip. “The coverage went viral and for a few days it was very hectic, with lots of TV and radio appearances.”
These days, however, Pip seems content being a comforting PAT Dog. “Pip’s friends at school need some social TLC and clearly find their time with Pip very enjoyable. After a few sessions I can see them open up to Pip and they feel happy and proud to be chosen to spend time with him.
"I’m really delighted to visit supportive schools that recognise and prioritise nurturing time for their pupils. As an ex-teacher myself, I know there is never enough time to give every pupil the care in the school day that all teachers would love to be able to provide. I find our PAT visits extremely rewarding and am very proud of Pip.”
Read more about Pip the Wonder Dog @pipthewonderpup
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