Tag Archives: therapy dog

How I wound up on 100 Huntley St with my golden doodle

It was actually a Faith Today article and webinar that indirectly led to my dog Dewey and I embarking on a journey to become a therapy dog team visiting seniors in a residence.

Dewey the Dog visiting while people talk about him in the background for 100 Huntley St.

While researching and interviewing for a piece about palliative care and euthanasia — of all things — I started to hear a clear message, especially from Bruce Clemenger, president of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. He talked about the need for Canadian Christians to embrace our seniors and make sure we are being the hands and feet of Christ to a portion of our population who are often  lonely and sometimes neglected by their families, friends, and perhaps even by an overloaded medical care system.

At the same time, I was feeling a clear call to volunteer my time outside of the church circles in which I normally served. Plus, I have a great big, fluffy, lovable golden doodle who loves nothing more than going from person to person in a room, being cuddled and loved and talked to in warm, adoring voices by whomever is willing and available.

So, Dewey and I applied to become a therapy dog team through St. John Ambulance. We went through the process of evaluation and training, and then a four week mentoring period with an experienced therapy dog volunteer.

Each week me, my mentor, and Dewey of course, would meet outside the doors of the Port Perry Villa, and have a conversation about things like what side of a wheel chair to approach, how to handle barking if dogs meet up in this otherwise very human environment, and the most important tip for me: to not get in the way. In my nervousness, I had been kneeling down to be eye level with Dewey, so I could reassure him in this unfamiliar setting. My mentor asked me not to do this, to just trust Dewey to do his job.
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