150 Mile House resident helps expand therapy dog program in the Cariboo

‘She’s an amazing volunteer’

Molly is a 5-year-old golden retriever with a busy schedule.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she goes to a senior’s village, then an elementary school in Williams Lake. On Wednesdays, she goes to the library.

Molly is a therapy dog for St. John Ambulance.

Her owner Karen Wright has been a dog handler for two years and says, “I really enjoy visiting with seniors and kids because they get so much out of (Molly).”

Wright belonged to a Pets and Friends group when she lived in Surrey, which she attended with her labrador.

She said the dog therapy program is something she’d always wanted to get involved in.

Now that she’s retired, she’s free to pursue her passion with Molly.

She’s so passionate, in fact, that she’s taken it upon herself to set up a booth at the South Cariboo Summer Festival on Saturday, Aug. 11.

RELATED: The operator of 100 Mile House-based emergency pet food delivery service calls it quits

There, she will be available to educate people about the dog therapy program and recruit potential participants.

Ashten Black, Wright’s contact within St. John Ambulance, has been helping get her what she needs for the booth.

“She’s an amazing volunteer,” says Black.

Traditionally, Black says they haven’t had many branches in communities heading north.

“Recently, we’ve had quite a number of people express interest in the Cariboo region, from 100 Mile House as well into Quesnel.”

She added that two volunteers have stepped forward in Prince George to help revitalize its program as well.

“It’s truly impressive how many volunteers it takes to keep our program operating, and they do such a wonderful job.”

Therapy dogs are different from service dogs, says Black.

“We kind of make the joke that service animals need to provide and perform a variety of very specific skills and tasks, whereas our dogs do nothing but accept love.”

RELATED: Therapy dogs make appearance at B.C. Games

Therapy dogs can be helpful in bringing a “moment of joy” to care facilities, like hospitals and retirement homes, anywhere children are learning, as well as high-stress workplaces like emergency first response units, according to Black.

The therapy dog program is free.

“Our therapy is to the greater general public and it’s always a volunteer program, so we never evaluate for any other purpose other than to give back to the community,” says Black.

Dog owners interested in signing their pets up for the program should know that St. John Ambulance doesn’t train its therapy dogs.

Instead, Black says they simply evaluate the dog’s temperament, behaviour and appropriateness for the program.

Dogs who “enjoy being pets,” can be in large groups, aren’t bothered by affection, enjoy the interaction and who are generally excited to see people but don’t jump up and can easily be calmed, she said, are ideal.

For general inquiries or to sign up for the program, you can email volunteer@bc.sja.ca or visit Karen Wright at her booth on Aug. 11.


beth.audet@100milefreepress.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Molly, a five-year-old Golden Retriever and St. John’s Ambulance certified therapy dog. Submitted photo.

Molly, a five-year-old Golden Retriever and St. John’s Ambulance certified therapy dog. Submitted photo.

Molly, a five-year-old Golden Retriever and St. John’s Ambulance certified therapy dog. Submitted photo.

Molly, a five-year-old Golden Retriever and St. John’s Ambulance certified therapy dog. Submitted photo.

Molly, a five-year-old Golden Retriever and St. John’s Ambulance certified therapy dog visiting with people around the Cariboo. Submitted photos.

Just Posted

Cow Moose Sign founder wants LEH for antlerless moose hunt in B.C. stopped

“Shooting a cow moose — it’s just not the right thing to do, especially in this region”

Cost-free adult crafting classes come to the South Cariboo this September

‘What I want to promote is a group having fun, something to come to that doesn’t cost them’

What was your favourite part of the Summer Reading Club at the library?

Pawan Nijjar 100 Mile House “The crafts and the prizes we got… Continue reading

Creating intuitive art with a spiritual message

Cindy Faulkner has a passion for pottery: ‘clay in my fingernails is just a really great feeling’

Tourism is making a comeback in the South Cariboo

Tourism has made a comeback in the South Cariboo. “The season has… Continue reading

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Cross-examination begins for B.C. dad accused of killing young daughters

Andrew Berry is charged in the deaths of six-year-old Chloe and four-year-old Aubrey in 2017

Dog attacked by river otters, Penticton owner says

Marie Fletcher says her dog was pulled underwater by four river otters in the Penticton Channel

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

Most Read