Paul Jewels is not just a busy and kind man. He’s an inspiration too! Along with his incredibly hardworking Maltese therapy dog, Gozo.

We met with Paul to talk about his background and getting involved with PAT; how he became a volunteer and what makes Gozo such a brilliant therapy dog, impacting on the lives of those he visits in hospices and care homes in North Devon.

We also met with some of the people that they visit, to understand how their time with Paul and Gozo impacts on their lives.

Paul is a retired chartered surveyor and family man, with 6 children and 10 grandchildren. Since 2014, Paul has unfortunately suffered a series of strokes and his recovery has also been hugely helped by the amazing Gozo.

Volunteer profile

Name: Paul Jewels

Role: Pets As Therapy Volunteer

Became a volunteer: 2017

Location: North Devon

PAT pet name:  Gozo

Breed: Maltese

Age: 4

Our interview with Paul

Have you always had pets?

I’ve had pets for most of my life. Growing up we had golden Retrievers, an English Setter and then a Burnese Mountain. We had a Black Lab when we adopted our twins and now have Gozo.

How did Gozo come into your life?

After my first stroke 6 years ago, one of my granddaughter’s suggested that l get a puppy to help with my recovery. Since January 2019 I’ve suffered a further 3 strokes. Gozo provides motivation to me, as I have to get up, walk and train him each day.

What made you decide to become a Pets As Therapy Volunteer?

I really wanted to share the benefits that I received from Gozo with other people. When talking about Gozo with a nurse who works in a local nursing home, she suggested that I look into the charity Pets As Therapy.

I was invited to visit the nursing home and afterwards researched PAT via the website to see if there was an opportunity for Gozo and I to be involved. PAT head office put me in contact with the local voluntary area coordinator, Kathryn Moore. I subsequently met with her for a chat about the role and then promptly completed my application to join.

What establishments do you visit?

I visit seven establishments including care homes and nursing homes, as well as a church cafe and hospices. However, the North Devon Hospice holds a particularly special place in my heart. This is where the Queen’s Award has just been given in the Queen’s Birthday honours in June 2020. It’s the highest award that can be given to a group of volunteers.

Gozo and I were very honoured to be selected to welcome the Lord Lieutenant on the day that she came to inspect the hospice. There were only 10 volunteers chosen to meet her out of a total of 500 volunteers who work at the hospice, which clearly highlighted the value that they place on Gozo and the impact of our visits.

I must reiterate that we are very much only one small part of a much larger team; it’s only because of the whole team’s spirit and efforts that this award was received.

What do you enjoy most about the visits?

Seeing the direct effect that Gozo has on the people he meets. Bringing a smile to people’s faces and allowing them to immerse themselves in the moment, no matter what may be going on in their lives, is a truly wonderful experience to behold.

When I leave, I know that Gozo has brought some happiness to the people we have seen, which makes me incredibly proud and quite emotional.

I previously had my own business as a chartered surveyor. After my first stroke in 2014 this was suddenly no longer a viable part of my life. I missed this work incredibly but simply could not keep up with the pressure of the job. Volunteering has very much helped with my daily routine and personal wellbeing.

Bringing a smile to people’s faces and allowing them to immerse themselves in the moment, no matter what may be going on in their lives, is a truly wonderful experience to behold.

What is a typical visit like?

Like many other volunteers I have spoken with, Gozo knows when he is going on a visit. He recognises the uniform when we are about to leave the house and gets excited about it. Gozo also recognises that he needs to be on his best behaviour and adapts by calming down. He is used to the routine.

Gozo loves the attention he gets and I very much like the visits where we have time to spend with individuals so that they can truly get the full impact of a therapy visit. It’s important that a visit is not too rushed, as it can be stressful for myself and Gozo if this happens. People we visit look forward to their time with Gozo, so we like to make sure that they are able to relish their time with him.

The North Devon Hospice – How Paul and Gozo Make an Impact

To more fully appreciate just how Gozo impacts others during his visits, we also met with Susan Friend, a volunteer coordinator at The North Devon Hospice, who said the following about Paul and Gozo;

“Paul has been bringing Gozo to North Devon Hospice for a little over two years and they bring such joy to everyone they meet.

Primarily they visit the hospice’s Bedded Unit, where patients with the most severe symptoms are receiving round-the-clock care, with some maybe in their final weeks or days of life.

Both Paul and Gozo bring a huge amount of cheer to people facing very difficult times. However, it’s not just our patients and their families who love this adorable pet therapy dog; he’s just as popular with the hospice nurses!”

Here are some comments from others who have met Paul and Gozo at the hospice;

A member of the team;

“We absolutely love Gozo! He is such a sweetheart, and I’ve told Paul that I will puppy sit for him at the drop of a hat!”

“It’s so important to give our patients experiences like this, because our job is to help create memories and special moments. That happens every time Paul and Gozo come to visit, and we are very grateful to them both.”

Myra – A Patient;

Myra was a patient on the Bedded Unit who sadly passed away, but she was one of many to have had her day brightened by a visit from Paul and Gozo. She had this to say about Gozo;

“He’s just beautiful, and a very good boy. I’ve had large dogs all my life but he’s just the right size to come in and sit on people’s laps. He’s as good as gold, and he brings a lot of joy.”

Susan sums up perfectly the big difference that Paul and Gozo’s visits make at the Hospice;

“Paul and Gozo are excellent examples of how specialist, individualised care towards the end of life is essential and how care involves far more than just medicine. Hospices help people with incurable illnesses like cancer to live life to the full, while also supporting the emotional wellbeing of everyone involved.

This is exactly why Paul and Gozo make regular visits to our hospice’s Bedded Unit. Staff from around the building often come and visit the Bedded Unit when Paul and Gozo are visiting. These visits are equally as important to the staff, it gives them a few minutes break from the work at hand, to take a moment to enjoy the therapeutic effects of simply stroking Gozo and to have a cuddle.

It’s always a delight to see Paul pop his head round the door with Gozo in his arms. You can’t help but smile as soon as you see the pair of them together. The trust and respect the pair have for each other shines through and knowing what a difference they make to the patients and staff here at the hospice helps Paul to gain some of the confidence he lost due to his strokes.

We are extremely fortunate Paul invested his time and energy into getting Gozo assessed with Pets As Therapy, because countless patients and their families have benefited from their visits over the past few years.

Another volunteer on the Bedded Unit was so interested in hearing Paul and Gozo’s story, she invited them to visit her local primary school where she teaches. The children not only learnt about Gozo and Pets As Therapy, but also received an insight into the work of North Devon Hospice. This culminated in the school children wanting to visit the Bedded Unit. The class has now visited several times and they often hold fundraising events and make decorations and gifts for the Bedded Unit.

Paul and Gozo are true ambassadors for the hospice. They are an inspiring pair and we look forward to their visits each week. They spread joy and a sense of calm among patients and their families on the Bedded Unit, as well as all the staff and other visitors they meet while they are visiting us.”

We are extremely fortunate Paul invested his time and energy into getting Gozo assessed with Pets As Therapy, because countless patients and their families have benefited from their visits over the past few years.

Read more volunteer stories

We would love to hear your stories about Pets As Therapy, whether you’re a volunteer, an establishment that works with us, or someone who has been visited by a PAT pet. To submit your story please contact marketing@monchu.uk.

We are also always looking for new recruits to carry on the incredible work that volunteers like Isabel and London do. If you are interested in volunteering for Pets As Therapy, please fill out our application form, and we’ll be in touch.