Dog Days Deliver Smiles at TBRHSC
by Maryanne Matthews
“Being a St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog volunteer at the Health Sciences Centre is very rewarding, and an awesome way to give back to the community,” says Susan Venn, who started volunteering with her dog Denver four months ago. “I love that I can share some of the joy that Denver gives me with other people who might not be having the best time, or are in need of some cheering up.”
Every Thursday Denver and Susan Venn visit the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) to be a friend and source of joy for patients, families, visitors and staff.
On an average visit, Denver and Susan will help to brighten the day of approximately 50 patients, as well as countless family members, visitors and staff. “We meet a lot of people who are stressed out or having a bad day and it’s so nice to help alleviate that and make them smile. Denver has a special ability to make people happy,” says Venn.
Therapy dogs must be very obedient, friendly, calm, and comfortable around wheelchairs, crutches, and other types of equipment commonly found in a hospital setting. All therapy dogs are evaluated through St. John Ambulance who administers the program.
“Denver has a lot of obedience training and the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program allows us to put all that training to good use in a way that helps other people,” Venn says. “We really look forward to our Thursday visits at the Health Sciences Centre.”
For more information about the Therapy Dog Program, please contact the St. John Ambulance office at 345-1712 ext. 2 or visit their website at www.sja.ca.