PAT Stories

Rachael Sones & Arlo

“My love of PAT goes well beyond enjoying people saying lovely things about my dog. I see changes in the children we work with. Teachers are amazed at the very positive differences they witness in children’s behaviour, mannerisms and willingness to read.”

Rachael Sones is a PAT Volunteer along with her dog Arlo. They make weekly visits to Orchard Junior School in Hampshire.

Labrador Retriever Arlo became part of a caring family in 2020 and owner Rachael knew from the start that he’d make a great PAT Dog. “Arlo was so patient,” she smiles. “Growing up with two young and slightly boisterous boys, he tolerated endless attention, noise and a busy family life. His favourite thing is meeting people and he enjoys receiving attention. His enthusiasm for life is infectious and he never fails to make people smile, laugh and enjoy his company.”

Enjoying school visits
Children at Orchard Junior School are particularly eager to spend time with Arlo. “We currently make weekly visits, and work closely with a Learning Support Assistant within their Special Educational Needs/Emotional Literacy Support Assistants den,” Rachael explains. “Mostly we participate in the Read2Dogs scheme, reading with children whose confidence in reading is low. However, we also work with a few children with SEN, just chatting and letting them pet Arlo. They give him treats and walk with us around the school grounds.”

Recently the PAT Team have been working with a child who has autism and struggles attending school on a daily basis. “Since meeting us he often attends school on the days we are visiting. At first he barely spoke and then only in a quiet voice. He always asks to walk Arlo, so with me holding a lead for control and him holding his own lead, he has been giving Arlo some basic commands such as ‘sit’ or ‘wait’. He’s really coming out of himself and is now using a strong voice for his commands, to which Arlo is acting on. I can tell the young boy is immensely enjoying the feeling of self-control he gains from this.”

Fundraising events and Facebook chats
As an Assistant Voluntary Area Co-ordinator, Rachael also participates in PAT’s fundraising events and manages a Facebook group for her immediate area. “It’s often hard to put into words the reason why I enjoy volunteering so much. Mostly it’s down to the changes I see in children, but it’s nice to be told how brilliant Arlo is. The teachers love meeting him as much as the children.”

It would appear that Arlo’s bubbly, kind nature is infectious. “He always makes people relax and regularly rolls over for a belly rub. He also sits nicely for anyone who will give him a treat – cheese is his favourite.”



We are always looking to recruit more volunteers.

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