Okanagan seniors experience puppy love

Missionwood Retirement Resort residents had a special Valentine’s Day

Residents of a retirement home in Kelowna had a lively Friday afternoon.

Volunteer handlers and therapy dogs from UBCO’s B.A.R.K. program visited Missionwood Retirement Resort for the first time.

Building Academic Retention through K9s (B.A.R.K.) brings trained therapy dogs to university students in an effort to reduce stress, homesickness, as well as to foster interpersonal connections. The program promotes the overall social and emotional well-being of students.

But this time, they wanted to bring the smiles to another generation.

The program’s director Dr. John Tyler-Binfet said going to university is a bit like being in a retirement centre, which is why he wanted to bring the dogs to Missionwood.

“It can be a bit crowded and a bit impersonal, people comment on the food,” he laughed.

“But to me, it just makes a lot of sense. We have a high rate of loneliness in both settings on campus and in a setting like this. I think it’s just a progressive way to see our students in a different environment and to see our dogs working and doing in a different context outside of UBC.”

Tyler-Binfet added based on the Valentine’s Day success, he imagines they’ll be back at the home.

Geri Eakins has been a volunteer handler since B.A.R.K.’s inception and she said the afternoon was special.

“It’s been amazing today. I can see the smiles and energy and how people just seem to come alive and just telling the stories of when they had their dogs, the particular dogs they had,” she said.

“It’s just amazing to see the energy in here and the aliveness.”

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

READ MORE: Therapy dog retires from B.C. university


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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