Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Waiting for our badges . . .

We're waiting for our badges . . . Chloe and I greet the post each morning with heightened expectation. But badges, or, to be precise, ID tags, take time to make. They will come . . . and, when they do, Chloe and I will be ready!

Why do we want these tags? Let me explain.

It was Susan's idea. Quite soon after Chloe's arrival, Susan sent me a website address.
"This might interest you," she wrote.
The website was for a national charity called 'Pets As Therapy'. Pets as therapy? It was an idea that I knew, but a charity that I hadn't heard of.
Intrigued, I investigated further . . .

'Pets as Therapy,' I read 'is a national charity founded in 1983. It is unique in that it provides therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues by volunteers with their own friendly, temperament tested and vaccinated dogs and cats.
Today there are currently over 4,500 active P.A.T. dogs and 108 P.A.T. cats at work in the UK. Every week these calm, friendly P.A.T. cats and dogs give more than 130,000 people, both young and old, the pleasure and chance to cuddle and talk to them. The bedsides that are visited each year number a staggering 6.75million.'

I turned to look at Chloe . . . Chloe looked at me . . . I recalled her sociable nature, her love of playing with children, her sunny temperament.
"Chloe," I told her firmly, "you're going to be a P.A.T. cat!"
But Chloe, who believes in living in the moment, was far more concerned with the prospects for her supper.

Understandably, these things take time, we have had to curb our impatience and wait. No cat or dog is even considered until it is nine-months old.
Finally, she was ready. She walked well on the lead, enjoyed visiting friends, and was very happy travelling in the car. Just before Christmas she had reached the stage where she was ready to be assessed by a P.A.T. examiner.

For obvious reasons, this assessment cannot take place in the animal's own home. I invited the examiner to accompany Chloe and me to lunch at our local pub. Where better, I thought, than the bustling activity of a London pub for a cat to pass her suitability test?

With hindsight, it might have been better had it not been Christmas! But even the most socially-responsible cat can be forgiven for trying, surreptitiously, to dismantle the Christmas decorations!
The examiner generously overlooked this understandable lapse in Chloe's otherwise exemplary behaviour.

Yes . . . you've guessed, she passed! When the form had been completed, all the questions answered and all the boxes ticked, it turned out that she'd passed with flying colours.
I was overwhelmed with relief and pride. Chloe, totally unfazed by her achievement, was beginning to think wistfully of the chicken lunch awaiting her at home.

A few days later, in celebration of this notable success, our good friend, Shelagh, designed and presented Chloe with a splendid certificate!

So now you know why we're waiting for our badges. Each P.A.T. cat, and each owner, needs an ID Badge. Without these badges we would be denied access to the hospitals, care-homes, or hospices. Ours, we are told, are under way.

And if you think that you're going to be spared every detail of the expeditions that Chloe is dreaming about . . . well, you can think again!
I can't wait to tell you all about them . . . nor can Chloe, who is now officially: P.A.T. Cat No: 109.

Watch this space . . . !