Longformacus farmer’s daughter Marion Livingston, named as Therapet Organiser of the Year 2015, is credited with revitalising the service in the Borders.
Marion joined Therapet as a volunteer in 2009 with her whippet, Benji. In 2013, she became area representative for Canine Concern Scotland Trust (which runs the Therapet service), since when she has - in the words of Canine Concern Scotland Trust’s chairman, George Leslie - “revitalised the Therapet Service in the Borders”, building up a team of more than 30 volunteers who regularly visit nearly 50 different places.
Marion, who was born and brought up on the family farm in the Lammermuirs near Longformacus and now lives in Lilliesleaf, says there has been a surge of interest in pet therapy in recent years and that demand for Therapets far exceeds supply. She now needs many more cheerful volunteers and their happy and healthy pets (dogs and cats must be used to being on a lead or in harness), who can dedicate a couple of hours on a regular basis for visits in Berwickshire, particularly around Kelso and Duns. Prospective volunteers must be prepared to supply two character references, and to have their pets’ health and temperament fully assessed.
Pet therapy has huge benefits in situations as diverse as nursing homes, schools, prisons and dementia units. Stroking or holding a dog or cat can slow down a person’s heartbeat, as well as decreasing stress, blood pressure and even glucose in diabetics.
Marion said: “With more and more people realising how hugely beneficial pet therapy can be, the demand for visits far outstrips supply, so we’re always on the look out for new volunteers with happy, healthy pets who can spare a couple of hours a week to visit.”
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