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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Could Your Dog Brighten A Hospital Stay? - Working Dogs

Could Your Dog Boost Spirits?

Is your dog even-tempered, and calm? Does it enjoy being with people? If so, they may be a good candidate for the Therapy Dog program that St. John Ambulance offers here in Kawartha Lakes. Curious? Here is a bit about the Therapy Dog Program, and also some information about similar programs in other communities too.
image St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog and Volunteer
St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog and Volunteer
What is the Therapy Dog Program ?
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Therapy Dog Program Boosting Spirits in Canadian Communities for Over 20 Years 

 St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program brings joy and comfort to the sick, lonely and those in need of a friendly visit. The program started in June, 1992 as a pilot program in Peterborough, Ontario. and today nearly 3,000 Therapy Dog teams reach thousands annually.
Program Details Therapy Dog services are provided in a wide range of community settings such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Seniors residences and care facilities 
  • Schools, universities and colleges 
  • Community centres and libraries 
The Therapy Dog Program provides an opportunity for individuals to:

  • Talk with the volunteer and the dog 
  • Feel, touch, pet and cuddle the dog 
  • Receive unconditional love from the dog 
  • Carry-out or practice an activity in the presence of the dog - such as the "Read to the Dog" program at Kawartha Lakes Libraries
The Program offers many benefits, improving quality of lives. Some of the reported benefits include:

  • Greater social engagement with individuals/residents talking more, participating more in activities, and smiling more 
  • Stress relief and distraction from pain 
  • Comfort and calming 
  • Improved self-confidence and esteem
Therapy Dog Programs vary across Canada based on community need and the availability of volunteers.

Where Do Therapy Dogs Work?

Therapy Dogs routinely offer comfort and companionship in senior residences and care facilities. In hospitals, they may be providing relief and distraction for patients awaiting cancer treatments. There are special programs such as “Paws 4 Stories” which help young children learn to read, and in some communities Therapy Dogs work with youth at risk and children with special needs. University campus visits are very popular, helping to relieve stress during exam periods. In special cases, Therapy Dogs can be found working with police and fire departments, social workers and psychologists during times of crisis. The Therapy Dog Program is continuing to expand as communities recognize the special contributions that St. John Ambulance’s caring, four-legged volunteers can bring to Canadians of all ages in all life circumstances.

Why Become a Therapy Dog Volunteer Team?

 Therapy Dog Program volunteers report great satisfaction and sense of contribution from bringing joy and comfort to those they visit with their four-legged family member. To learn more about this exciting and rewarding Therapy Dog program, please contact your nearest St. John Ambulance location.

Similar Therapy Dog Programs in Other Locations

This post was inspired by a post on the Theme Trip  Blog where we learned about two therapy dog programs: Gabriel's Angels and Pet Partner Therapy Team.
Gabriel's Angels- An organization in Arizona that provides pet therapy to "at-risk children, nurturing their emotional development and enhancing the quality of their lives forever." They currently have over 150 volunteers and deliver therapy to over 100 agencies.
Here is a You Tube Video From Gabriel's Angels:
Therapy Dogs - Gabriel's Angels

Pet Partner Therapy Team is another organization in the United States that helps to bridge Therapy Dogs with the right volunteer location and support.
Find out more about these programs and the special temperament therapy dogs need on the blog that inspired this post: Theme Trip - Hospital Visiting Dogs

Does your dog volunteer as a therapy dog? We'd love to share your dog's story!
Please leave a confidential comment below or
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Suzanne @KawarthaDog

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