Volunteers of the Month - July 2021 - Pat & Richard Porter

Posted by Victoria Leedham

Within the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People community, we have many volunteers that go quietly about their business, diligently helping behind the scenes and never mentioning all the small sacrifices and little adjustments they make to their daily lives to accommodate caring for and training our dogs to the assistance dog standard we require.

These types of volunteer tend to offer calm and supportive homes, tune in well to canine behaviour, intuitively know what is normal and what needs flagging, and are a dream to work with from the perspective of our training and welfare staff.

Two such volunteers are Pat and Richard Porter from near Malton in North Yorkshire. Upon joining the volunteer team in 2017 they instinctively chose to get involved with adolescent and more mature dogs needing specialist attention, rather than our young puppies - a choice that has seen them become absolute rocks for the Beatrice Wright Centre team at the site closest to them in East Yorkshire.

Karen Rigg, Quality Assurance Evaluator, explains: “The Porters have just had Una for 18 months on foster and have been absolutely amazing in their care of her. Even during these unusual times, Pat and Richard kindly brought Una to the centre, even though they live about 50 minutes away, to be weighed and regularly health checked once a month.

Una has allergies and, to save her going to the vets each time, they learned how to give B12 and Cytopoint allergy treatment injections. They also rotated and washed her bedding and toys every fortnight, vacuumed regularly, as well as freezing and storing her food correctly which also helped immeasurably and meant we were able to reduce the frequency of her injections.

Thanks to Pat and Richard’s diligent care and understanding, Una has been matched into a lovely new hearing dog partnership and, whilst they were sad to see her go, they are also very proud to see her move on in her working career – positively changing a deaf person’s life through emotional and practical support.

The Porters’ kindnesses extended to me too! Just before Una moved to her new home, we found out that there’d been a manufacturer change to the recipe of her preferred salmon and potato, allergy-specific food meaning we needed to organise a last minute wean between the previous recipe and the new, as well as making up batches of individual meals for her new partner for the next week or so. I offered to do this, but the Porters insisted that they would cover it so that I could enjoy my day off!”

Before Una, Pat and Richard have given their unique brand of extra-special care to a lucky roll call of dogs including Elton, Garry, Jonty, Mo, Norton and Tori. Dog Welfare Officer James Jones recounts:

“As well as Una’s injections and managing her many allergies, they did a great job looking after Garry the Goldie, a sensitive soul, who needed cream on his sore tail and confidence building getting in the car. They also did an awesome job managing Labrador Tori’s weight issues. Pat and Richard always follow advice and are consistently helpful with every ask that we make of them to ensure the best possible health and welfare for our dogs.”

Looking after themselves for a change, Richard is shortly booked in for a full knee replacement, so the couple cannot take on another dog straight away which we know they’re going to miss. In typical style they have offered to continue to help in any way they can, and in case of emergencies, however we will of course be encouraging rest and recovery!

To sum up about this wonderful, understated couple Rebekah Inder, Fostering & Re-homing Coordinator, says: “The Porters are superb volunteers where the phrase 'going above and beyond' doesn't even come close to how much they have done for Una. They are shining examples of Welfare Fosterers and have provided both behavioural and welfare support to a number of dogs without any fuss or desire for recognition.”

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About the author

Victoria Leedham

Hello, I'm Victoria and Head of Volunteering for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Hearing Link. It’s my privilege to celebrate and share stories about our wonderful volunteer family.

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