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

 

Just Posted

Shuswap animal sanctuary seeks to fit frostbitten baby goat with prosthetic leg

Fundraiser started to help Zuri, newest resident of Twin Hearts Animal Sanctuary

Stanley Cup returning to Salmon Arm after 15 years

Resident excited for twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see iconic trophy

Money available to curtail nutrient pollution of Shuswap watershed

Excessive phosphorous could make algae blooms and other unpleasant conditions more common

Eight times a charm: Larch Hills skiers win team trophy at Teck BC event

Shuswap contingent wins Midget Championships honour eighth year in a row

Salmon Arm boy is only Para-Nordic athlete at BC Winter games

Thirteen-year-old Kaden Baum competed in three races on his sit-ski at the games.

Okanagan rescue team comes back home from Australian mission

Brad Pattison’s team spent 33 days rescuing wildlife

Alleged racially-motivated vandalism concerns Penticton Chinese community

Chinese community worried fear surrounding COVID-19 coronavirus a cause for discrimination.

Kelowna mayor to request RCMP’s ‘unfounded’ sexual assault report

RCMP said the report was completed over a month ago but have yet to release it or make a statement

Criminality not suspected in Ellison trailer fire death

The body was discovered after crews responded to reports of a house fire

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

Kelowna youth accused of killing 16-year-old released

The young woman was arrested on Feb. 21 and is facing one charge of manslaughter

Interior Health appoints administrator at Summerland Seniors Village

Numerous concerns raised about private seniors care facility

Man arrested following suspicious trailer fire in Kelowna

Reports came in about the fire at approximately 11:45 a.m. on Monday morning

Most Read