St. John Ambulance therapy dog co-ordinator Joyce Polley with Moby the therapy dog on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer) St. John Ambulance therapy dog coordinator Joyce Polley poses for a photo with Moby the therapy dog on Sunday, Dec. 1. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)

Caring canines wanted: Salmon Arm therapy dog program seeks new recruits

St. John Ambulance co-ordinator hopes there will be enough interest to certify dogs locally

Joyce Polley sees a growing need for therapeutic canine companionship in the Shuswap.

Facilitator of the local St. John Ambulance therapy dog program, Polley hopes a post-Christmas recruiting drive will draw enough interest to certify some therapy dogs in Salmon Arm.

In the past, those interested in getting their dogs certified as therapy dogs through St. John Ambulance had to bring them to Kamloops. Potential therapy dogs are screened in groups of eight to 10 to demonstrate they can be calm and respond to commands in a variety of situations. Dogs being evaluated have to interact with people in wheelchairs, and be calm when they are offered treats and toys. Polley said the task that results in the most failed certification attempts is one where the dog is asked not interact with another service dog as the handlers have a conversation.

Read More: Salmon Arm Art Gallery extending hours to explore Little Lake

Read More: Sicamous Eagles beat Creston, snap winless streak

Polley meets with the owners and assesses their dog’s suitability for work as a therapy dog before they attempt the certification. The Piccadilly complex care home lets Polley bring dogs she has confidence in prior to the test to allow them to practice in a care home environment. Polley said once the dog gets its certification she often brings it back into the care home for a graduation ceremony of sorts. She also does further work with the dogs and their owners.

Polley said there are currently four handlers with certified therapy dogs working on a steady schedule in Shuswap care homes and other settings, and four more who are also certified.

According to Polley, one aspect which many people who wish to get their dogs certified for therapy do not understand is the time commitment involved. Once the dog is certified, handlers are asked to put in at least an hour working in a care home each week.

Read More: VIDEO: Harbour Air gears up for launch of first fully-electric commercial seaplane

Read More: RCMP cleared in death of B.C. man who was found naked, bloody in car wash

In the new year, Polley hopes to recruit enough new dogs and handlers so they can bring an evaluator to Salmon Arm to get them certified. Polley said doing so would also allow already certified therapy dogs to receive an added designation allowing them to work with elementary school students. New handlers have to work with adults for a full year before they can begin working with kids

“If we can get some of these folks certified for children, then our horizons are widened.”

Only Moby, Polley’s Labradoodle, is currently certified to work with kids. She said kids are required to participate in the certification and it can be a great experience for them as well. Along with Moby, Polley also has a Rottweiler-Bull mastiff cross named Bo who is also a certified therapy dog.

Polley said an opportunity for people to get their dogs certified locally would help ease the frustration she feels when she finds an eager prospective dog handler whose canine has what it takes, and months pass before there is an opportunity to get them certified. Polley said she is eager to field questions from anyone who thinks they and their dogs have what it takes to join the therapy dog program; she can be reached at 250-832-0680.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Secwepemc knowledge-keeper’s contributions recognized by Province of B.C.

Louis Thomas one of 18 people to receive B.C.’s Medal of Good Citizenship

Salmar manager draws curtain on career with Salmon Arm’s independent movie theatres

After 22 years, Daila Duford announces departure at association’s AGM

VIDEO: Salmon Arm elementary students step up for Canadian Music Class Challenge

Bastion and Hillcrest elementary schools submit videos, winners announced Dec. 17

Workshops, networking events designed for Shuswap women entrepreneurs on the way

Tsuts’weye project holds successful roundtables where valuable information gathered

‘She was awesome’: Malakwa baker leaves U.S. holiday show

‘There are Christmas miracles, look at me’

Cat and dog die in house fire in Kelowna

The house is located 195 Valleyview Road in Rutland

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

Bird populations significantly declining around Revelstoke says Parks Canada

Out of the mountain national parks, bird populations near Revelstoke are in the worst shape

WATCH: Diehard Vernon Winter Carnival goers line up for tickets

Susan O’Brien was the first in line at 6:45 a.m. Friday

B.C. Transit finds 28 used fareboxes online, saves $300,000

‘Someone joked maybe we can buy used fareboxes on eBay,’ CEO says

Year in jail for ex-Vernon Judo coach for child porn

Bryan McLachlan pleaded guilty to possessing and distributing child pornography

Many of Canada’s working poor can’t afford lawyers, don’t qualify for legal aid

One lawyer says many people earn too much to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to really live on

Economy lost 71,200 jobs in November, unemployment rate climbs to 5.9%

Jobless rate is at its highest since August 2018, when it hit 6%

Most Read