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Four-legged recruit joins Burn Fund Centre to help survivors with stress and anxiety

Yellow Labrador Benji can sense when people are anxious and helps calm them down.

Yellow Labrador and black Labrador sat side by side with service dog harnesses on, looking towards the camera.
Photo: Benji and Ferus (BC & Alberta Guide Dogs)

A yellow Labrador has become the latest recruit at the BC Burn Fund Centre helping burn survivors deal with stress and anxiety.

Benji the 2-year-old Lab - who will be turning 3 on November 15 - works as an Operational Stress Intervention Dog and began training by the BC & Alberta Guide Dogs in 2018.

As part of his day to day duties, he can sense when people around him are anxious or worried and intuitively helps them calm down.

He will also support burn survivors by attending the Burn Fund’s camps and retreats including the Little Lionhearts Family Camp - for survivors under 5-years-old - and Burn Camp.

The Burn Fund Centre, located next to the BC Children’s Hospital and BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn, Trauma & Plastics Unit at Vancouver General Hospital, provides accommodation suites for burn survivors and their families to recover.

There are 8 suites for survivors to recover while undergoing treatment at the hospitals, discharge transitions and for return appointments. The centre also includes games rooms, computer areas and a healing plant garden - with plants specifically chosen for their burn-injury-friendly qualities.

Benji also has a canine friend in Ferus - a black Labrador - another Operational Stress Intervention Dog who will be working alongside Coquitlam firefighter Steve Farina, who is vice-chair of the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Association Mental Health Task Force.

As part of Ferus' daily work, he will perform pressure and tactile assistance tasks to help fire fighters after a traumatic event has occurred on a call.


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