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The packed schedule of Doug the Pug

PUBLISHED: 11:40 24 March 2016 | UPDATED: 11:40 24 March 2016

Doug leaves someone else to answer the phone and make arrangements

Doug leaves someone else to answer the phone and make arrangements

Archant

Meet Doug the Pug, philanthropist, author, and an all-round handsome companion who always finds time to snuggle up to friends, old and new

We’ve been trying to think who Doug might be if he was a human chap. Perhaps the looks of Brad Pitt combined with the gentle generosity of spirit of ‘National Treasure’ Sir David Attenborough. It’s impossible because there is no living comparison, and modest Doug would shy away from this sort of adulation.

When we talk about working dogs, most people think of guide dogs, farm collies, police dogs and the like. But Doug, who could walk under them all (probably prancing like a dressage horse) is kept busy in a very special job. He’s a Therapy Dog and Reading Dog, the latter through the Saunderton based UK charity, Pets As Therapy. So Doug regularly sets off from his Gerrards Cross home with his ‘PA’ Cate Archer, to visit schools, care homes and hospitals.

His packed weekly diary includes popping in to the junior and infant school in Chalfont St Giles, a care home in Amersham (visiting those from there, when sick, at Amersham Hospital), a community lunch club in Chalfont St Giles and a pupil referral unit in Amersham.

Cate, a former numeracy and literacy teacher, explains: “I consider myself very lucky because I’d reached a stage in life where I realised I could afford to work for nothing. For the past four years – Doug is now six – we’ve had the greatest job imaginable, paid in smiles.”

Doug often cuddles up to children who may be struggling with reading for various reasons, quietly encouraging them to read him a story. Other children find his calmness helps them, too, to sit still or get through sad times. For some it’s removed their fear of dogs.

Cate says: “Some want to marry him; others want to take him home and keep him forever. Children write to him with their worries. Others draw pictures for his ‘bedroom wall’, which is indeed exactly where those pictures are!”

Anyone who’s taken a well behaved dog into a care home will know that it’s not only the elderly person you’ve come to visit who is delighted – other residents who miss their pets from days gone by also have their spirits lifted by the arrival of a four-legged guest.

Cate says: “Wherever we go, Doug is the centre of attention. He is always dressed smartly, perhaps in a bowtie, and has a lovely harness made by The Very Distinguished Pug Company. They make girlie ones too, and for all dog shapes and sizes, from recycled clothing in the UK.”

When not at work, Doug enjoys downtime at home with Cate, her husband Nick and visits from their two grown up children, Alice and James. He shares his life there with Molly, a chocolate Lab who at 11 years old is still capable of being a delinquent according to Cate, and Tiger and Alfie, two cats of 17 and 19 he loves to snuggle up with.

Cate says: “Our aim is to encourage friends to be happy with who and what they are, to celebrate each individual’s differences, and recognise that we all have something quite wonderful to offer.”

Find out more

www.dougthepugtherapydog.com | petsastherapy.org

How you can support Doug

Please buy Doug the Pug: A Working Dog’s Tale, published by 5m Publishing at the start of this year. It’s Doug’s story – Cate had to write it for him as although he loves reading that’s as far as it goes. This is a lovely book with lots of pictures and illustrations by Alice Palace, aimed at children, but we think anyone would enjoy reading it. All royalties go to Pets as Therapy.

You’ll find the book at £7.95 on Amazon, and it’s also available at the Waterstones in Amersham.

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