Mariella and Honey, the therapy-trained dog

This is a guest blog written by Susie Marment, owner of Honey the dog.

Honey’s relationship with KLS began when I was at the Haider Practice Patient Group meeting about 3 years ago.

Sarah from KLS was visiting and mentioned that Mariella, member of the 60+ Lunch Club, was desperate to have a dog of her own. Sadly the sheltered housing where she lives does not allow dogs. Because of this, Mariella was becoming more and more despondent and depressed.

So Sarah asked if I would be willing to visit KLS the following Tuesday lunchtime and meet Mariella. Before then I had never heard of KLS so it was a complete revelation when I walked through the door.

This was the start of a wonderful friendship. Honey took to Mariella immediately and leapt up on her lap. The squeal of joy from Mariella each time we come through the door is so satisfying and because of this we have got to know all the other members of the group as well.

We walk to the park and take Mariella out sometimes and Honey always walks alongside Mariella checking she is ok.  The other members of the group seem to look out for Honey as well and she always is the catalyst for conversations about their previous dogs and how much they meant to them.

I have discovered how much good work all the people and volunteers at Katherine Low Settlement do for the community.

I was a radiographer for 50 years and ran Macmillan Cancer Support (previously Cancer Relief) in my hometown of Banbury but moved to London to be with my new husband Jamie about 10 years ago. So when we decided to have a puppy after my golden retriever died, I needed to find a perfect breed. I needed one that was intelligent, small and didn’t shed hair so I discovered a litter of Labradoodle/Cockerpoos had been born on Christmas Day near Milton Keynes. We went to see them and the decision was made.

After I retired I really wanted to visit hospitals, day centres and care homes with a dog, so I contacted Pets As Therapy once Honey was fully grown. A PAT dog should be calm, gentle, quiet and definitely not snappy.  Honey sometimes DOES jump up and DOES bark when excited but when it came to her examination she behaved perfectly. We met a PAT dog examiner in Wandsworth Common who put her through her paces. Amazingly she walked to heel, sat quietly, didn’t jump when a dustbin lid was dropped by her and didn’t bark. So she passed with flying colours. So this was the start of Honey’s career.

We love visiting KLS and are delighted to have been given the chance to see this amazing place. Thank you for having us!

Would you like to find out more about Pets as Therapy? Click here.

At KLS we help older people living in poverty in Battersea and surrounding areas. For many of our members, it is their only opportunity to socially interact and feel like a valued part of a community. If you’d like to become a monthly donor, click here.

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