PAT Stories

Maggie Fogarty & Bonnie

When Bonnie arrives at the care home, she is greeted like royalty, and you can see the sheer joy on the faces of everyone. There are always huge smiles.” 

Nine-year-old Cockapoo Bonnie has been a PAT Dog for seven years. Along with her owner, volunteer Maggie Fogarty, they visit a Leonard Cheshire care home in Long Rock, West Cornwall.

“The place we visit is called St Teresa’s and it provides support for people of different ages with a variety of disabilities,” Maggie explains. “It has stunning views across Mounts Bay towards the famous landmark, St Michael’s Mount. When Bonnie arrives at the care home, she is greeted like royalty, and you can see the sheer joy on the faces of everyone. There are always huge smiles and even when people have speech communication difficulties, you can still see how much they love Bonnie dog. One resident told us that our visits always cheer him up. Bonnie really makes his day.”

The power of a dog
Anyone who understands the human-animal bond will know how our pets can be incredibly intuitive. “Bonnie can sense if someone is feeling a bit low or unwell,” says Maggie. “If a person has to remain in bed, we still give them the chance to have a room visit, which can take their mind off things for a while. Also, some people at the home have had to leave their own pets in the care of others, so really enjoy the interaction with another visiting animal. Bonnie has known some of the residents for quite some time now. She has become an important part of their life.”

Maggie always believed Bonnie had the potential to be an amazing PAT Dog. “In my own career as a TV producer and journalist, I’ve made a number of welfare and social care-related programmes for UK broadcasters. One television series followed a team of RSPCA inspectors and I’ve also worked alongside other animal charities. When I got Bonnie with my husband Paul, who also volunteers with Pets As Therapy, we could see that she had the right temperament to be a visiting therapy dog. We went about getting her assessed and it was no surprise that Bonne passed with flying colours.”

Animal magic
Bonnie certainly works her magic at the Long Rock care home. “There was one resident in particular,” Maggie recalls, “who was feeling a bit overwhelmed when he first arrived and was reluctant to socialise. A member of staff suggested we do a one-to-one visit with the gentleman and we learned quickly that he adored animals. He had owned several dogs in the past and we could see his mood lift visibly when he spent time with Bonnie. During the visits we also learned about his past work and what books and TV programmes he liked. We could see that having Bonnie there with us was a lovely catalyst for a chat.”

Maggie tells us she enjoys volunteering, too. “It’s so rewarding. On our visits you can see straight away what a great impact they have on the residents and the hard-working staff. You can also see how the atmosphere becomes lighter and there is lots of laughter. Having Bonnie by my side is a great ice-breaker when meeting new arrivals to the home. And it’s always good to see that some of the residents are waiting expectantly in reception when we turn up.”

She adds, “The work of Pets As Therapy over the past 40 years is both life-enhancing and sometimes life-changing for the people who benefit from PAT visits. We are proud to be part of the charity.”


We are always looking to recruit more volunteers.

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