St. John Ambulance therapy dogs Penelope, Burke and Pig on a Zoom call. (Contributed photo)

St. John Ambulance therapy dogs Penelope, Burke and Pig on a Zoom call. (Contributed photo)

Virtual therapy-dog visits aim to bring ‘pawsitivity’ on Stress Awareness Day

April 16 event raises funds for St. John Ambulance program

The St. John Ambulance therapy-dog program may be on hold due to the pandemic, but plans are in place to bring some ‘pawsitivity’ to those who need it on Stress Awareness Day.

On April 16, four-legged volunteers will be available for some virtual comfort, through a one-day model developed “to provide the connection that so many people are craving and raise funds for the program.”

According to a news release, dogs like Molly, a golden retriever, and Penelope, a mini goldendoodle, will be available for 15-minute Zoom visits by donation.

Both dogs have been St. John Ambulance volunteers for more than two years. Molly specializes in visiting senior residences and workplaces such as law firms, and her handler Shirley Earle said it never gets old seeing the difference in mood in everyone that gets to meet her.

“Dogs give non-judgmental and unconditional love, and Molly demonstrates that wherever she goes. We miss our visits so much and we know all of the seniors we visited in the past miss their weekly comfort as well,” Earle said in the release.

“We know that nothing can replace the physical part of our visits, but I hope we can fill some of that void during this tough time with Molly’s virtual presence.”

Penelope and her handler Ryan Ward, pre-pandemic, visited a care home to offer staff a distraction and provide senior residents with companionship. They also supported various therapy-dog community events.

Ward lauded Penelope’s calming effect.

“The pause of visits is a loss both ways, for us and them. We’re glad we can find ways to still be there even if only through a screen. Dogs have the ability to bring positivity to their surroundings, and Penelope loves to make people smile,” said Ward.

Dog-team volunteers have also visited residents of White Rock’s Peace Arch Hospital complex in years past, including the Dr. Al Hogg Pavilion.

READ MORE: Therapy dogs give patients paws for good health

During the 15-minute visits on April 16, participants “can expect to hear about the dog and their volunteer work, learn about the importance of dogs when it comes to mental health, be able to ask questions or share their own stories, and maybe even watch the pup show off some talents and tricks,” the release states.

The event will run from 8 a.m. till 4 p.m. Anyone interested in booking a visit is asked to make a $10 or $20 donation to the therapy dog program at supportsja.ca/stress-awareness-day, after which an email will be sent to book a time slot.

For more information, email bcy.fundraising@sja.ca or call 604-321-2652, ext. 2721.

CoronavirusDogsSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey School District building. (File photo)
‘We’re in a financial lockdown’: Surrey school district working with $40M budget deficit

District, board points to lack of immigration for new student enrolment

Surrey-raised Tetsuro Shigematsu wrote and stars in “1 Hour Photo,” a Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre’s production to be presented online by Surrey Civic Theatres on April 23-24. (submitted photo/Raymond Shum)
‘This Japanese kid who grew up in Whalley’ thrilled to return with acclaimed ‘1 Hour Photo’

City’s Digital Stage to show Tetsuro Shigematsu’s solo portrait of Mas Yamamoto

Steve Serbic, assistant chief of operations for the Surrey Fire Service, has written a book, “The Unbroken” delving into his struggles with post-traumatic stress. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey firefighter writes book to ‘be part of the change’ in stigma around post-traumatic stress

‘The Unbroken’ details Steve Serbic’s childhood, career and journey dealing with mental health issues

Everett Cummings in a tribute video posted to dignitymemorial.com.
Mechanic’s death at Surrey dock results in $200K fine for company, union says

Photos of rally outside Surrey court posted on ILWU’s ‘Kill A Worker Go To Jail’ Facebook page

Fish processing workers fillet farm-raised salmon in Surrey B.C. Photo courtesy BCSFA
Discovery Islands salmon farm removal impacts jobs in B.C.’s Lower Mainland: report

The City of Surrey is the hub of the salmon farming industry in Metro Vancouver

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among the encouraged ventilation measures

Most Read