Polly has held a variety of diverse roles in her career, from running The Body Shop Australia to now managing a property portfolio for a client. Since 2018, she has also found time to volunteer as part of the Lort Smith Pet Therapy Program.
Over the years, Polly has volunteered with three of her beautiful Samoyeds bringing comfort and joy to patients, families and staff at The Royal Women’s Hospital, The Royal Melbourne Hospital and more recently, headspace.
“I started with Lily, who has since passed away. Now, Rosie and I volunteer at The Royal Melbourne Hospital,” explains Polly.
Last July, Polly adopted Teddy from the RSPCA. He was an inspectorate case who arrived very underweight and neglected. Teddy has gone from spending 24 hours a day outside to living a life of luxury indoors, spending most of his time getting cuddles on the couch.
“Teddy is about to turn seven. He was 10 kilos lighter than he is now and his gorgeous white fluffy coat has regrown. He loves to talk! All Samoyeds talk; but he talks more than any Samoyed we have ever known,” laughs Polly.
Teddy displays such a sweet personality that Polly enrolled Teddy as a Lort Smith Pet Therapy dog. He passed with flying colours!
“Teddy is the perfect name. Not many dogs truly love cuddles, especially from strangers, but Teddy couldn’t get enough. We couldn’t stop hugging him – the most huggable dog I’ve ever met,” stated Megan Nutbean, Lort Smith Community Programs Manager.
“From the first moment he arrived, he craved affection. Teddy can’t walk past anyone in the street without stopping for a pat. He is gentle and patient, I immediately thought he’d make a lovely therapy dog,” shares Polly.
“Recently we visited headspace, it was wonderful. Teddy was a ‘natural’ as I suspected he would be. I found it very humbling. One young girl was rubbing his tummy and told me that every pet she had ever owned had been tortured by her father – who was in and out of prison. She just loved Teddy looking at her so adoringly – giving her his full attention. There were twice as many staff as clients there! That’s the lovely thing about pet therapy, it’s for everyone!” shared Polly.
Polly has always volunteered in some capacity. She truly believes that if you want to create a better society, you need to jump in and try and make it so! Whilst sometimes juggling a busy life with work and volunteering can be a challenge, Polly always walks away feeling so grateful for being able to share these intimate moments with people, and grateful for her own good fortune.
“I’ve been lucky to sit on boards where you work to advocate for the greater society or develop policy. But I love that with pet therapy it is just me and the dog working together to try and make a difference,” says Polly.
One of Polly’s most memorable pet therapy moments was with Rosie:
“We were asked to sit with a woman who had just been given some very bad news about her diagnosis/life expectancy. She was sitting in her wheelchair, very distressed waiting on her family to arrive. Rosie instinctively walked over to her and placed her head on her knee. As the woman stroked Rosie’s head, she slowly started calming down and could talk about her fears and heartache. I felt honoured we could be there during that really hard time,” shares Polly.