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Wag and Company

Chloe visits George at his home in Northumberland most weeks; she’s an invaluable source of company and friendship for George, and she also loves the ear scratches and tummy rubs he provides.

Smiley Team

3 weeks ago
Chloe is part of a Wag Team, one of more than 300 owner and dog partnerships operating across the North East run by the charity Wag and Company.

Their aim is to relieve the isolation and loneliness many elderly people feel by running a canine visiting service, especially older people who are dog lovers but are no longer able to look after their own pet.

The organisation was set up by Diane Morton in 2016, after she volunteered with a similar project in her previous role as an HR director.

Diane said: “I volunteered along with my collie, Bob, as part of a scheme in my previous job. I saw the incredible impact dogs had on elderly people who felt lonely and isolated.

“But the scheme only ran in care homes and there was nothing available for older people in their own homes, which is where the idea for Wag and Company came from.”

Diane was also inspired by the bond her own father, who suffered from dementia, had with her dog. She said: “Dad would not recognise me, but he knew Bob by name. He would not remember what to do with a hairbrush but he knew instinctively to pet Bob on his head or stroke his silky ears.

“I believe the bond between a person and their dog is very deep and instinctive, and comes straight from the heart.”

So Diane set up the charity and began recruiting Wag Teams - volunteers and their pet dogs - who would be willing to spend an hour or two every week at home with an older person in their community who was feeling isolated.

Diane explained: “Most of the clients we work with are dog lovers themselves, so they instantly have something in common with their visitors. The results have been incredible. We’ve seen people who have not got out of bed for weeks get up and dressed as they know the dog is coming, and many people have said that seeing their Wag Team is their highlight of the week.”

The charity puts all volunteers - human and canine - through a screening process to check their suitability. Volunteers range in age from 18 to 89 and all kinds of dog are welcome, from tiny Chihuahuas to Newfoundlands.

Diane added: “Taking your dog to visit an elderly neighbour for an hour or two once a week is a very simple act of kindness that really makes a huge difference to their life, and yours.”

Wag and Company are looking for volunteers, fundraisers and donations, see wagandcompany.co.uk for more details.

By Jenna Sloan
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