My name is Jan. I retired from the West Suffolk Hospital Clinical Coding team in 2016. After the initial excitement of not having to do the A14 dash every morning I decided I was ready for a volunteer role, but what did I want to do? I considered the National Trust, which I knew I would enjoy, but what I really love is being involved with dogs. This is when I came across 'Our Special Friends' OSF. I became a registered volunteer in March 2017 and met my first client Mrs M and her two adorable and adored pugs. Mrs M was unable to walk the pugs due to ill health and only one of the pugs, Lady, was able to go for a proper walk. Poor Jet has very little use of his hind legs due to a congenital problem but is a happy loving boy. I felt bad leaving Jet behind so, with the agreement of Mrs M my daughter put out a request on free ads for a pushchair for a disabled dog. A quick response from a lovely, generous lady gave us a robust pushchair suitable to go 'off piste' on walks with his puggy mate. Of course we get comments "gosh that's a hairy baby" or double takes from passing cars. It gives me great pleasure to take both dogs out (with a bit of help from my husband or daughter) and it is a pleasure to get to know Mrs M and her lovely pugs.
As well as walking the pugs I have three dogs at home, two Cavalier King Charles spaniels and my daughter's Maltese Shitzu cross. I felt Ruby, one of my spaniels would make a perfect visiting dog and after assessment by Belinda (OSF founder) Ruby was signed up to visit Davers Court Nursing Home in BSE. We alternate our visits with the lovely standard poodle Sybil and her owner. Ruby goes from room to room at the home bringing smiles and pleasure to both residents and staff. I take a few treats which some residents like to give her. It gives such pleasure to rekindle memories of residents' own dogs. Most memories are good, one lady was given a puppy when she passed her 11 plus, which I am pleased to say lived to a good age. Some of the men have had working dogs and they reminisce about farm life.
I always come away from my two volunteer roles feeling we make a difference to both dogs and people's lives. It is a privilege to work for OSF and to feel valued and supported by them.