From the Pup's Mouth

 My Life as a volunteer

By Chanel (two years 11 months)

H ello

I'm Chanel and I am a Volunteer Dog at the Hospital; it's sort of like the Vet's but much bigger and MUCH more fun.

When I get ready to visit, I get my Person to put my volunteer photo identification round my neck (In winter I have a big coat saying 'Volunteer'). 

If I did not have my Identication, people might think I was just an ordinary dog, you see, not a Volunteer.

Then I jump right in my travelling box. When I get out at the Hospital, I am very excited, and immediately know just where to go

The place I go most often, my People call a 'rehab ward'. All the people there know me, and are very happy to see me. When I come to the front door everyone is there wanting to say hello, and I know them and run to them.

I have lots of Aunties and Uncles at that place, and I look after them, make them happy and catch sticks for them.

These is a big indoor yard, with a track round it, and sometimes some of the People walk with me round it, and sometimes I have the yard to myself and am let off my leash to run to my heart's content. I like that Big Yard Place a lot.

I once saw a very strange thing there, like a cat but smaller and with big ears. I chased it but it cheated and ran through a hole in the fence. Next time!

Other times we go to another place, where Auntie Kate is the boss. She's a nurse, like at the Vet, but I've never seen her take a patient's temperature like the vet nurses took mine when I was a puppy!

Auntie Kate's Place is good, and she smells good because she has a dog at home taking care of her.

There are usually new people at this place most times we visit, but they almost all smile and kneel down to pat me. Sometimes the people here are not feeling well, and sad at being away from home, and away from their own pets. I know what that is like because I stayed overnight at the Vet a couple times. 

Most of the time they cheer up though when I come and let them give me a hug.

When we go round the hospital, we often meet families with little kids, who stop and look at me. Well, of course, since I am so cute.

And my Person always stops and says hello and asks if the children want to pat me. Then they pat me, or stroke me, or stick their fingers in my ear! But it's all part of the job and I am very patient. After all, they're only puppies. My Person always tells them though to ask their People before patting a dog, because not all dogs are as patient as I am.

Grownup People also stop to say hello (most of them smell like they have dogs at home looking after them.) They notice my Volunteer ID and say 'Isn't that cute'. Of course, but not as cute as the real thing!

If we're somewhere with an empty chair my person pats the seat and I hop up to sit on a chair like the other people in the room. They usually go wild at that one!

A while ago one lady who stopped to talk said she wished her mum could see me, as her Mum was in hospital and missed her dog. So we went up to see her Mum.

We went into a very strange room, a little square one. The door closed, then when it opened again, the corridor had changed . Very strange. The new ward was strange too, funny smells and sounds. But I was with my Person so everything was fine.

First my Person asked the nurses in the place if it was OK for me to visit (You've got to listen to Nurses, because their job is to know what patients need to be well and happy – sort of like my People look after me).

The nurse said it was fine, so we went to her Mum's bed. The daughter told me to jump up on the bed, but my Person said no, so I did not. But her Mum was happy to see me, patted me and said how soft I was and the daughter took some pictures of me and her Mum.

Then we turned to go, and couldn't, because the corridor outside was full of people looking at – well, me of course. There were nurses, and a lady with a two-leg puppy (who patted and poked me of course) and people wearing white coats. And they all said 'She's gorgeous' and 'Look at her identification and other acknowledgements of my pure cuteness.

It's not all just being cute, though. You have to know where not to go, and how to Sit.

When my person goes into a real neat place called the Cafe where there are treats and food, I Sit a bit away and wait for him, and the big glass room where the nurses live on one ward is also usually too busy for me to walk around so I Sit and wait outside.

I Sit really well; aside from being cute (and barking and playing with toys) it's one of my best things to do!

I also have to protect my territory. I share the duty of looking out for people at the Hospital with the only other Volunteer Dog there, BJ. I've never met BJ but we've exchanged scents.

However, if I am going for a walk round the border of the Hospital with one of my Uncles or aunties, and I see other dogs walking across the street I always bark at them, just like I do at home, telling them that this place belongs to BJ and me, and they should just walk on past!

Yes, it's hard work being a Volunteer Dog, looking out for all the people in and visiting the Hospital, and I usually sleep well that night after I get home, but it's a job that needs to be done, and I'm the Dog for the job!

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