Therapy Dog Program

Giving back and warming your heart

“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.”  ~Sherry Anderson


Got a bit of spare time on your hands and a great dog?  Have you ever considered volunteering for the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program?  This program has been something that I have thought about and wanted to pursue for many, many years.   As a busy Mom of two sons, I didn’t have time to spare raising my family and balancing my career as the Office Manager at North Town Veterinary Hospital. As time has passed and our sons now grown, a change in my role at North Town and opened up some valuable free time. It seemed like this could be the right time to look into what this program was all about.  Life has been good, it is now time for us to give back.

Would I have the right dog?  I figured “I” would pass the evaluation and questionnaire, given that I am very comfortable interacting and chatting with people, but would Shiyah pass the qualifications?  She is by no means the “perfect” dog but she loves people and new situations don’t seem to faze her.  I figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Shiyah is a three year old Golden Retriever who I am often reminded by people that she is definitely not shy and at home not always on her best behaviour.  But when Shiyah puts on her Therapy Dog bandana and walks through the doors of the Wellington Terrace Long Term Care Home in Fergus, I am amazed by her and the love she spreads with every wag of her tail!

She definitely has a way with people. The joy that Shiyah brings to the residents that she sees on a weekly basis is immediately visible; whether it is in a smile, a laugh, a hug, a kiss or being able to give  “just one more cookie” to her. It is a win win situation for Shiyah and I each week. I have learned that the power of a smile, hug or gentle pat can mean everything to someone. By just sharing my dog can bring a fleeting moment of joy, comfort, and love into someone’s day by looking at her, patting her or sometimes sharing a story with both of us is heartwarming to me.

The Fergus Santa Claus Parade and Fergus High School Exam De-Stressing Visits were another couple of favourite events Shiyah and I were involved in this year with the Therapy Dog Program.

Another added bonus for myself by becoming a St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog volunteer, are the wonderful people that I have met that are also part of this program.  These are some of kindest and most giving people I know!  The type of people that would drop everything to lend a hand or a listening ear; those that never say goodbye without a big hug!

If you and your dog are looking to get involved in a very rewarding volunteer program, I would highly recommend the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program.  You will be amazed at how wonderful volunteering makes you feel!


 “You gave me your TIME, the most thoughtful gift of all!” ~Dan Zadra


Written by Laura ThompsonVetStrategy Payroll Officer and Training Specialist