Therapy Dog

Say hello to the Cooper!

Cooper is our official SSG Therapy & Wellbeing Dog. Owned by Director Chris Watson, Cooper loves nothing more than visiting our groups across a range of projects including our college-aged students and adult learners, child care programmes and SEND provision.

Many people don’t have the opportunity to benefit from a relationship with an animal, and with Coopers calm and friendly nature many children, young people and adults really enjoy spending a little time with him.Cooper also visits local (to Bedford) schools, care homes and hospitals when requested.

Cooper is requested with the Pets as Therapy (PAT) national charity and has undergone the required training and assessments to qualify as an official therapy dog and has all the required insurances alongside this. All visits are accompanied by Cooper’s owner and are free of charge as part of SSG’s Community Give Back Scheme. To arrange a visit or find out more please get in touch.


Pets As Therapy is a national charity founded in 1983 by Lesley Scott-Ordish. It enhance health and wellbeing in the community through the visits of trusted volunteers with their behaviourally assessed animals. It provide a visiting service in hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues all across the UK.

Its therapeutic visits:

  • Enhance lives in our communities by providing companionship and friendship and helps to tackle loneliness.
  • Improve the lives of people suffering from debilitating mental and physical health conditions and illnesses such as Autism, Dementia and Stroke by including animal assisted interventions as part of a holistic approach to treatment.
  • Improve literacy in children by developing their confidence, interest and enjoyment in reading through our read2dogs scheme.

To become a registered and approved PAT dog they need to be able to:

  • Walk on a relaxed lead, without excessive pulling and without the use of head collars, harnesses or check chains. Why? PAT dogs need to be under the owner’s control at all times, without relying on the use of training or behaviour correction aids.
  • Accept being stroked and handled and having their paws, tail and ears checked by the assessor. Why? PAT dogs have to accept being patted, often vigorously, by patients or clients. They need to not be overly worried about having their paws, ears, or tail handled by a stranger. The assessor will check that the dog’s nails are trimmed short and you should keep the nails short at all times
  • Take a food treat gently without snatching from the assessor. Why? Patients and clients love to be able to give their PAT dog a food treat. It is important that they do not snatch it because some patients, such as older people have very fragile skin.
  • Respond appropriately to a sudden noise or disturbance in the room whilst being tested. Why? PAT dogs have to encounter lots of new and unexpected stimuli – they should not be overly fearful of this and recover quickly.
Each visit last approximately one hour long.
There is no charge for a visit. Pets as Therapy ask organisations for a donations for their registration.
Every visit can be structured to best suit the organisation and group being visited. The general concept is Chris and Cooper will come along and spend time with people who are keen to meet Cooper.

Cooper is happy to meet people individually or as a group. Chris stays with Cooper for the whole time and Cooper remains on his lead throughout the visit. Cooper is very happy to be stroked and cuddled.
There are two parts to arranging a visit from Cooper.

1: Contact Chris via to discuss details of your organisation and those whom it is involved with.

2: Contact Pets as Therapy to complete an visit request registration form