Laid back dog Rodney makes friends at the hospice

Retired pharmaceutical industry worker and Pilgrims Hospices volunteer Martyn Ponting has owned dogs for years.

Then, when he was looking for a new way to give his time and energy to the hospice in Ashford, his canine friend Rodney gave him the perfect opportunity.

Rodney, a two year old black Labrador, is now a regular visitor to Pilgrims Hospice Ashford. As a Pets Are Therapy (PAT) dog he enjoys his regular Wednesday social morning in Pilgrims Therapy Centre and also visits patients on the ward.

Martyn from Sellindge said: “My career in the pharmaceutical industry often took me to environments where PAT dogs attended. Knowing how special the service is and how uplifting seeing a friendly furry face can be for patients, I thought I’d enlist Rodney’s gentle skills.”

Rodney’s owner Martyn Ponting can often be found at Pilgrims Hospice Ashford whether it’s as part of the volunteer gardening force that keeps the Ashford grounds in such beautiful condition or whether it’s to bring along Rodney, the very much loved PAT dog for patients, families and of course Pilgrims staff to enjoy.

“Rodney is very well behaved and absolutely loves his time the everyone at the hospice. He was such a laid back puppy, I thought he would be a perfect candidate to become a Pets As Therapy dog. His huge calm eyes and affectionate nature, I knew he had to come home with me.

Rodney’s a very gentle soul and thoroughly enjoys his visit to Pilgrims.

Rodney often receives compliments from the care team, Pilgrims doctors say animals are often a great icebreaker and help with patient communication. Everyone seems to relax with Rodney in the room.

Martyn added: “Rodney’s a very gentle soul and thoroughly enjoys his visit to Pilgrims. There’s always time for a cuddle. His favour treat is a smelly stinky old tennis ball; it’s definitely his favourite thing in life, along with a good swim. I really enjoy my visit to Pilgrims too. I meet such interesting people and enjoy their company. I bring Rodney along and he just works his way around the room to enjoy as many tummy rubs and ear tickles and he can.

I’m very proud of Rodney.

Every hour and every minute of volunteering for Pilgrims Hospices is hugely valued and goes a long way for the people needing our care.

Our volunteers play a part in every aspect of life in our hospices: they offer support, skills, kindness, care, raise money; they can be a friendly face helping in our shops and working on our receptions. By generously giving their time, volunteers support our staff as they work to provide the outstanding levels of care for which we are well known.

If reading about Pilgrims huge community of volunteers has inspired you to find out more about our current volunteering opportunities click here you can also download our fundraising pack.

Together we can make a difference for the thousands of people who depend on Pilgrims services across east Kent every day of the year.

Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of the fantastic contribution of the 23 million people who volunteer in their communities across the UK. – This year it’s taking place from 1 – 7 June 2017.