On 17 April 2021, John Southwood em”bark”ed on a solo motorbike trip clockwise around Australia to raise funds and awareness for PAWS Pet Therapy.
Forty-seven days later, after travelling 13 770 km and riding for 39 days, John (much to the relief of his wife Merri and family) made it home to Greenwich and, on the way, raised some much-needed funds for PAWS Pet Therapy. It was a butt-numbing, life-changing adventure. In the process, John raised over $30 000 for PAWS Pet Therapy.
What is PAWS Pet Therapy?
PAWS people and pooches are all volunteers. Each week PAWS volunteers generously give up their time to spread the magic of pet-assisted therapy to people in a range of settings, with needs ranging from loneliness to cancer.
There are about 100 active volunteers who, with their dogs, visit hospitals, aged care, schools, and companies. They visit anywhere stress, and anxiety relief is required.
All volunteers complete a comprehensive PAWS training course and are supported to increase their knowledge and skills and to provide a professional and safe pet therapy service to their clients.
Their volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and bring a range of unique skills and talents to their work. PAWS volunteers are regularly rewarded with a smile or a special moment, and the dogs are very proud of their special role and thoroughly enjoy their visits.
Though trained to understand and promote the benefits of pet therapy, volunteers are constantly amazed at the depth of interaction and the joy that their visits can facilitate.
Volunteers have regular training and social events, offering opportunities to share their experiences and knowledge and to swap stories and ideas. PAWS dogs enjoy the opportunity to participate in some valuable social time with their colleagues.
PAWS dogs are all different sizes, shapes, breeds and personalities, but all are sociable, loving, healthy and obedient.
PAWS currently visit sites in the Southern Highlands, Illawarra, Macarthur, Wollondilly and Shoalhaven areas, as well as Sydney city, and are always looking to begin in new areas (they are currently operating in NSW only).
How did John Get Involved with PAWS Pet Therapy?
For the last 3 years, John has been a volunteer for PAWS with his beloved “Reggie” – a King Charles Cavalier spaniel. He has visited many hospitals, aged care facilities, and, more recently, an acute psychiatric ward at Cumberland Hospital.
John says it is truly rewarding work, and the benefits to those visited are immense.
PAWS Pet Therapy, like most charities, had to put its services on hold during COVID-19. As many facilities reopened to the public, PAWS starting to experience demand that could not be met by their current staffing levels (2 full-time employees). To assist with demand, they needed a part-time admin assistant. This is where John has played a vital role with his fundraising.
About John’s Trip Around Australia
John’s Lap 4 PAWS was billed as one person, two wheels. He rode around Australia on a BMW R1200RT. John met many colourful locals and connected with others who were making their way around Australia. He road through rain, wind and dust but loved every minute of it.
John told ITC that he feels blessed to live in Australia and the potential and opportunities our country offers is truly amazing. Not just financial – but also for a balanced, rewarding and caring lifestyle.
John’s highlights were the Great Australian Bight and the Kimberley region. Both areas made him feel very connected to the land.
You can see more of John’s adventures on the PAWS Facebook Page.
Volunteer for PAWS
Work alongside your best friend and make a difference in the lives of others! PAWS Pet Therapy has exciting opportunities for people who are interested in becoming pet therapy volunteers.
PAWS provides all the training, support and equipment you need to carry out safe and professional pet therapy visits.
The PAWS course consists of a training manual done in your own time and some basic dog obedience training.
Volunteers are from a variety of backgrounds, with dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds. Volunteers are supported to keep up to date with pet therapy best practices and work in their chosen field. Fill out the volunteer form here.
Volunteers are asked to pay a one-off fee of $275.00. This fee contributes to:
- PAWS training course and support;
- Volunteer uniform (professional polo with Paws logo, bumbag);
- Dog uniform ( lead & vest with Paws logo);
- Visit bag and equipment (visit mat, water bowl, hand gel, clean-up bags, folder with relevant paperwork);
- Dog training as required and assessment;
- Ongoing training and support;
- Insurances; and
- Regular social events and training days.
This fee can be paid in instalments if required.
PAWS volunteers are constantly rewarded for their generosity, through special moments,
smiles, positive feedback or unexpected reactions from clients.
Their volunteers are renowned for their professionalism and compassion and are embraced by clients, families and staff at all the facilities they visit.
How Can You Help PAWS?
You can donate via John’s fundraising page here. A charity like PAWS can only grow and help more people via fundraising, and you can also donate via Direct Debit details below.
Find Out More About PAWS
Well done, John – what an amazing achievement. Reggie was pleased to see you when you got home.
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