Pat Thornhill chats about the joys of volunteering with the Dogs Trust
I have been a volunteer at the Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre in Glasgow since it opened its doors in 2006.
The vast majority of the volunteers at the charity are young and they call me Auntie Pat.
Although I’m now 62 I go to the centre six days a week normally working from about 10am through to 3.30pm or 4pm.
My volunteering came about as a result of me not working because of illness.
I had been a lollipop lady for nine years outside the school where my three kids went to but had to give it up on health grounds.
I was speaking to one of the nurses at a health centre and she knew I loved dogs. I’ve got four at the moment, a jack russell, a Saluki and two Rottweilers – Alfie and Rosie.
The nurse told me there was a dog rehoming centre opening “up the road” and said: “You should apply.”
So I did and I went to the very first volunteer inauguration event where they talked about the Dogs Trust, its history and the training needed.
My daughter and her husband live with us and are on different shifts so there’s always someone available to look after the four dogs.
The family supported my volunteering move. In fact my husband Jeff plays Santa Claus at the trust’s Xmas events and last time took our caravan there and transformed it into Santa’s grotto.
I love my work although I’m not as fit to do a lot of walking these days. Some of my work involves doing the laundry for the dogs.
I also do puppy socialisation work, preparing them for going to the vet so that they’re not traumatised.
We have volunteer meetings and I’ve found that some people who chose to volunteer don’t stay. Some people can’t cope with kennel dogs that can be stressed.
It can be quite an emotional job. Some of the dogs that come in are old and frail. I just want to be their friend, someone they can rely on. I sneak them a few treats without the centre manager knowing!
I would recommend this volunteering work. It’s a great thing for young people. Everything that is done is done for the dogs.
They could get involved in the trust’s Paws for Progress project where abandoned dogs are trained by young prisoners for rehoming.
And Alfie has benefited from the centre as well as me. He passed his “good citizenship” award there on a course for pups!