Studies have shown that stroking and touching a dog have helped to lower blood pressure, calm the mentally challenged and refresh the minds of the confused.
“Unlike even the best-intentioned humans, therapy dogs are completely accepting of people to whom they are introduced,” said Jo-Ann Johnston, facilitator of the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program in Vernon. “They don’t evaluate a person’s looks, nor what they might say. They offer unconditional affection that is beneficial for a person’s wellbeing.”
Through the program, volunteers and their dogs visit, on a regular basis, seniors at various establishments throughout the North Okanagan.
Any dog of sound temperament, is older than two years old, has current rabies and vaccination shots and passes a St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog evaluation can become a therapy dog. An evaluator will test the dog’s reaction to people and other dogs in a variety of simulated conditions that may be found in the facilities that are visited — it is not an obedience test.
“We want to know who is the boss, the owner or the dog — said Johnson.
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and willing to devote a couple of hours every two weeks.
For more information, please call Johnston at 250-542-6369 or the St. John Ambulance Hall at 250-545-4200.