St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program
St John Ambulance Therapy Dogs Program is a wonderful program. Here is why: dogs are non-judgmental. They are undeterred by human frailties and accept human illness, challenges, confusion or tears. Therapy dogs calm the distressed, distract the pain-ridden and console the despondent. Since 1994 the SJA Therapy Dog program has been providing comfort and friendship to the sick, the elderly, the lonely and the isolated in London-Middlesex. Once a “team” (handler and dog) pass the SJA Therapy Dog evaluation they are assigned a facility that they visit on a regular basis. The majority of the teams are assigned to nursing homes and long term care facilities although there is a wide variety of other types of facilities requesting the services of these volunteers (hospice, mental health organizations, group homes, youth detention centre, etc). The services of the Therapy Dog volunteers are far-reaching and always expanding as service providers recognize the benefit of offering pet therapy in their range
of client services. Sadly, due to COVID 19 restrictions, all face-to-face visits have been suspended since the spring
of 2020. SJA's volunteers continue to try to connect with patients/residents through virtual visits but everyone is very anxious for the day when our volunteers can witness, first-hand, the incredible impact of these visits. They have witnessed the barely moving hands of an elderly nursing home resident reach out to touch the soft fur while a whispering voice says, "I love you. Your visit is the best part of my week." Volunteers have seen stressed students apologize for tearing up as they bury their faces in the neck of a cuddling dog. SJA has heard the many stories of people who have lost their independence for various reasons as they reminisce about the pets that used
to be a part of their lives. They have also seen the smiles of children who were unable to read a story out loud but who sat at home practicing to read to "their dog." And all of this is why SJA's volunteers are dedicated to this incredible program.
The St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program is an entirely volunteer run program that is dependent upon donations and fundraising.
See St. John Ambulance Therapy Dogs in action!