Doug is the therapy pug – ‘who cares about everyone.’
But he cares about LGBTI young people more than anyone else.
That’s why he’s coming to the UK’s National Student Pride this weekend, to be one of many therapy dogs in the YouTubers and Puppies self-care room.
If you suffer from cute aggression, you might struggle with this story. Because Gay Star News interviewed Doug and his owner Cate ahead of the weekend.
Doug tells GSN he wishes everyone felt valued and accepted for who and what they are:
‘It’s of no consequence to me at all if people are, or feel, different. I greet everyone equally.’
But as well as helping people in self-care and happiness therapy sessions – he’s been raising money for young LGBTI homeless people too.
What is the power of self-care?
Doug believes we must love who and what we are in order to be happy confident beings.
His owner Cate says: ‘He never shows any judgment, or holds any stigma. If everyone thought like a dog the world would be a much happier place for us all.’
‘If we are to fruitfully share our love with others, we must first love and respect our selves and value all life.’
In 2016, Doug won ‘Most Heroic Hound’ at the National Pet Show, London ExCeL.
‘We’re so proud that the importance of supporting mental health and emotional well being is now being positively recognized to the extent that a little pug dog can be regarded as heroic.’
How does Doug provide therapy?
Doug openly and genuinely shares his love, warmth, and kindness with everyone he meets.
‘This wonderful honesty and lack of judgment in a dog lets people feel truly embraced. Doug often works with those who need a real boost of confidence or a kind sympathetic ear. He is a really great listener and has a very warm and comforting nature.’
‘Spending time with a trustworthy and predictable companion animal like Doug, that is gentle and kind, is said to reduce stress and anxiety.’
This is particularly important for students to consider.
‘Stress creates a real barrier to learning and prevents absorbing new information. Stress also slows down the processing of information necessary for working things out and remembering things.’
‘It has been proven that the joys of companion animal therapy stretch to the suppression of the stress hormone, cortisol, and encourage production of the feel-good factor hormone, oxytocin.’
How Doug is raising money for LGBTI homeless youth
Doug and Cate ‘slept’ out overnight in a cardboard box on a London Street in October. It was in aid homeless organization called Glass Door and DOTS London who support dogs on the street.
‘It is quite frightening that homeless people, with companion animals, often decline much needed medical care because they are so concerned about their dog’s wellbeing should they need hospital care.
‘Sincerely aching for anyone without a home, I strongly feel that any of us, however secure and comfortable in our surroundings, could find our lives changing in a snap.
‘I genuinely believe that being homeless is not a lifestyle choice and that none of us are beyond finding ourselves without a permanent home.
‘It is a heartbreaking tragedy that there are some people who find that, through being honest about who and what they are, find themselves in such judgment of others that their future, their home, their wellbeing, their safety and their livelihood is all at risk.’
‘But don’t forget those who live off the official homeless record, on the sofas or floors of tolerant friends. They are unable to embrace a sense of belonging or feel part of a community too. These people are all too often swept under the carpet and without recognition.’
Why Doug is going to hire homeless people to look after him
Doug is coming to National Student Pride with Pets As Therapy friends. But the initiative connecting the event and the company comes from a joint commitment to challenging homelessness.
It’s the main theme of National Student Pride this year.
But, Anne Clilverd who runs the company, says she is now planning to hire homeless people as part of their commitment to the cause:
‘A driving principle of Pets As Therapy is one of ensuring everyone has the opportunity to experience the joy of volunteering with their pets. In our 35th year, we would like to recruit 35 people who identify or have experienced homelessness to become a Pets As Therapy volunteer.
‘Talking to people who with experience of being homelessness think it’s a great idea. One man says he was tired of being part of “the unseen” and the “written-off.” So he liked the idea that others would see him contributing to the community as a volunteer for Pets As Therapy.
Cliverd has already begun work to make this happen, which will begin with roles for homeless people in Oxford.
What part of National Student Pride is Doug most excited about?
Doug at this stage is getting very excitable – so it was impossible to understand what his actual answer was. But we’re pretty confident he was barking ‘EVERYTHING.’
Fortunately, Cate clarified:
‘Learning new things and meeting new people helps embrace continuing challenges – particularly in older years! Doug and I recently celebrated our 56th birthdays and truly delight in being the same age!’
Also joining Doug the Pug Therapy Dog:
- Charley the Cavapoo,
- Cesc the English Whippet,
- Sabie a Staffie Cross and Buster the Golden Retriever!
Gay Star News are media sponsors of National Student Pride. GSN is hosting and live streaming the YouTube and Puppies meet and greet on the Gay Star Students stage at the event with Clifford Chance and Deloitte. Get your tickets to the event now.
Read more about National Student Pride:
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