The stresses and strains of life can sometimes take their toll but one answer to promoting calm and confidence is a mere whisker and a waggy tail away.
Pauline Kennedy, 61, from Fleetwood, is a volunteer with Pets as Therapy (PAT), a charity which provides therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes and schools.
The dogs, and occasionally cats, which are involved with the scheme have all been carefully vetted on their temperament and can help relieve stress and even assist with certain lessons.
Pauline, of Bentham Avenue, has taken her lovable pooch Pip into schools in Fleetwood, most recently at Charles Saer Primary School, where he has been involved in a reading scheme.
The pair also regular visit Larkholme Lodge, where adults with learning issues benefit from stroking him, and also Brian House where seriously ill children have been given great comfort.
Pauline said: “There has been a lot of research carried out which has demonstrated how beneficial and therapeutic it can be to have a gentle and lovable pet around.
“I have been involved with PAT for three years and it can really change lives.
“Pip is a cross between a Bichon Frise and a Maltese terrier and he has a really gentle and loving personality. At the schools, where some boys may not think it is cool to read books, I have seen these children end up happily reading aloud to Pip. This kind of thing has massively increased the reading age of children.”
Pauline, who spent years working for Land Registry in Lytham, has kept dogs for years but says she has never had one quite like Pip, who is five and half years old.
She decided to get involved with PAT after hearing about its work and after Pip got the all-clear, she introduced herself in the local area.
The charity does not receive any direct funding, so Pauline raises money for it by giving talks to local organisations for a small donations.
The most recent talk was for the Fleetwood Cancer Support Group.
For further information visit: petsastherapy.org