St. John Ambulance therapy dog co-ordinator Joyce Polley with Moby the therapy dog on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)                                St. John Ambulance therapy dog coordinator Joyce Polley poses for a photo with Moby the therapy dog on Sunday, Dec. 1. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)

St. John Ambulance therapy dog co-ordinator Joyce Polley with Moby the therapy dog on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer) St. John Ambulance therapy dog coordinator Joyce Polley poses for a photo with Moby the therapy dog on Sunday, Dec. 1. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)

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

St. John Ambulance co-ordinator hopes there will be enough interest to certify dogs locally

Joyce Polley sees a growing need for therapeutic canine companionship in the Shuswap.

Facilitator of the local St. John Ambulance therapy dog program, Polley hopes a post-Christmas recruiting drive will draw enough interest to certify some therapy dogs in Salmon Arm.

In the past, those interested in getting their dogs certified as therapy dogs through St. John Ambulance had to bring them to Kamloops. Potential therapy dogs are screened in groups of eight to 10 to demonstrate they can be calm and respond to commands in a variety of situations. Dogs being evaluated have to interact with people in wheelchairs, and be calm when they are offered treats and toys. Polley said the task that results in the most failed certification attempts is one where the dog is asked not interact with another service dog as the handlers have a conversation.

Read More: Salmon Arm Art Gallery extending hours to explore Little Lake

Read More: Sicamous Eagles beat Creston, snap winless streak

Polley meets with the owners and assesses their dog’s suitability for work as a therapy dog before they attempt the certification. The Piccadilly complex care home lets Polley bring dogs she has confidence in prior to the test to allow them to practice in a care home environment. Polley said once the dog gets its certification she often brings it back into the care home for a graduation ceremony of sorts. She also does further work with the dogs and their owners.

Polley said there are currently four handlers with certified therapy dogs working on a steady schedule in Shuswap care homes and other settings, and four more who are also certified.

According to Polley, one aspect which many people who wish to get their dogs certified for therapy do not understand is the time commitment involved. Once the dog is certified, handlers are asked to put in at least an hour working in a care home each week.

Read More: VIDEO: Harbour Air gears up for launch of first fully-electric commercial seaplane

Read More: RCMP cleared in death of B.C. man who was found naked, bloody in car wash

In the new year, Polley hopes to recruit enough new dogs and handlers so they can bring an evaluator to Salmon Arm to get them certified. Polley said doing so would also allow already certified therapy dogs to receive an added designation allowing them to work with elementary school students. New handlers have to work with adults for a full year before they can begin working with kids

“If we can get some of these folks certified for children, then our horizons are widened.”

Only Moby, Polley’s Labradoodle, is currently certified to work with kids. She said kids are required to participate in the certification and it can be a great experience for them as well. Along with Moby, Polley also has a Rottweiler-Bull mastiff cross named Bo who is also a certified therapy dog.

Polley said an opportunity for people to get their dogs certified locally would help ease the frustration she feels when she finds an eager prospective dog handler whose canine has what it takes, and months pass before there is an opportunity to get them certified. Polley said she is eager to field questions from anyone who thinks they and their dogs have what it takes to join the therapy dog program; she can be reached at 250-832-0680.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

 

St. John Ambulance therapy dog co-ordinator Joyce Polley poses with therapy dogs Bo, left, and Moby on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)

St. John Ambulance therapy dog co-ordinator Joyce Polley poses with therapy dogs Bo, left, and Moby on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)

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

Just Posted

Salmon Arm Council will be considering on March 10, 2021 approval of the placing of a notice warning of building bylaw infractions on a local property. (File photo)
City of Salmon Arm takes action on reported building bylaw infractions

If final approval given by council, notice will alert prospective buyers to outstanding issues

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver, Tuesday, June, 12, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Okanagan-Shuswap real estate market continues hot start to 2021

Sales in February were up more than 100 per cent over last year, reports the Association of Interior Realtors

The owner of this property at 2240 Highway 97B SE would like to subdivide the property to create a residence for her son so they can keep the farm going for the next generation. (City of Salmon Arm image)
Salmon Arm farm owner requests subdivision of land for family member

Creating two lots would mean son could help keep the farm productive

The Salmon Arm Fire Department responds to a report of thick smoke coming the backyard of a residence off Fifth Avenuse SE on the morning of March 3. Fire chief Brad Shirley notes that burning yard waste on lots under .99 of an acre is not permitted. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm residents reminded not to be tempted to burn yard waste

Firefighters respond to a call in city March 3 involving wet leaves, yard waste best taken to dump

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Although B.C. has not made masks mandatory in public indoor spaces, some business owners are requiring all customers to wear them before entering their store. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
EDITORIAL: Heightened tension over face masks

Incidents of anger and conflicts over mandated masks happening too frequently

John Hordyk said it isn’t fair to just look at COVID-19 deaths as many survivors are experiencing long-term impacts, himself included. (Photo by Rachel Muise)
Not getting better: Revelstoke man diagnosed with post-COVID-19 syndrome

‘I hope the damage isn’t long term, but it could be permanent’

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki responded to BC Housing minster David Eby’s remarks that the city has put themselves at risk of creating a tent city Wednesday, March 3, 2020. (Western News file photo)
Penticton mayor calls out BC Housing minister for ‘irresponsible fear-mongering’

Council recently rejected BC Housing’s request to keep a winter shelter open longer than first planned

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read