What a fantastic program!
Dogs, be they an official PAT dogs or 'just' well-mannered, stable visitors, can do so much to brighten a patient's day.
My father was an Alzheimer patient; he (and we) were so fortunate that there were several dogs who regularly visited. The PAT dogs did incredibly effective therapy, the visiting dog/owner teams added cheer and calm companionship. My father was a life-long dog lover; while the awful disease took so much away, his love of dogs, that deep-down connection, remained. The dogs' visits were for many patients the highlight of the day.
Hats off and utmost respect to all, owners and dogs, who volunteer their time doing such great work.
Nowheres on the level of PAT or Visitor dogs, but we had a great experience at the Hundeschule recently. Our trainer arranged for a group of children from the Heilpaedagogischeschule (developemental disabilities) to join our class.
Each owner and dog paired up with a child, and we did our exercises together, explaining to the child what we were doing, why, and how, letting the child direct the dogs with us. It was so much fun. I took Hooligan, who was an absolute star with the children - which shows how far she has come. She could never be a therapy or visitor dog, but in this context she really shone. A good time was had by all.
(One of the reasons I love Familienhunde. It's so much more than just sit, down, stay.