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White Therapy Dog with bandanna

Therapy Dog Program

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The St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program reaches out to thousands of people across Canada on a daily basis bringing comfort, joy and companionship to members of the community who are sick, lonely, reside in long-term care and mental health facilities; are in hospitals, schools and library settings. Program participants reap the therapeutic benefits of the unconditional companionship of a four-legged friend.

Therapy Dog FAQs

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Have a question? We've got the answers!

We've gathered the answers for the questions we get asked the most about our popular therapy dog program.

Why Therapy Dogs?

St. John Ambulance’s Therapy Dog Program takes a volunteer and their dog into hospitals, seniors' residences or nursing homes on a weekly basis. Through petting, affection, and regular visitation, many people benefit both physically and emotionally from the unconditional love of a dog, while also providing the volunteer with a unique and rewarding  volunteer experience.

The program continues to grow, boasting more than 3,500 volunteer dog teams providing over 275,000 hours of their time visiting hospitals, retirement residences, care facilities, schools and universities.  The friendly attention and acceptance of these four-legged volunteers are always greatly appreciated.

Therapy dog services are provided in a wide range of community settings such as:
 

  • Hospitals
  • Seniors residences and care facilities
  • Schools, universities and colleges
  • Community centres and libraries

 

The Therapy Dog program provides opportunities for individuals to:
 

  • Talk with the volunteer and the dog
  • Feel, touch, pet and cuddle the dog
  • Receive unconditional love from the dog
  • Carry-out or practice an activity in the presence of the dog
Program Benefits

The program offers many benefits, improving quality of lives.  Some of the reported benefits include:

  • Greater social engagement with individuals/residents talking more, participating more in activities, and smiling more
  • Stress relief and distraction from pain
  • Comfort and calming

 

The program varies across Canada based on community need and the availability of volunteers.  Therapy dogs routinely offer comfort and companionship in senior residences and care facilities.  In hospitals, they may be providing relief and distraction for patients awaiting cancer treatments.

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Older woman in nursing home with therapy dog and handler
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Therapy Dog being petted by youth.
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Girl and boy on stairs posing with St. John Ambulance therapy dog.
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Therapy Dog collie
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English Bulldog Therapy Dog
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Therapy Dog listening to girl read story
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Little therapy Dog listening to little boy read story.
Request Therapy Dog Services
Improving lives on a daily basis, the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program brings joy and comfort to the sick, lonely and those in need of a friendly visit.