BC Children’s Hospital just got a big dose of doggie love with 16 therapy pups reporting for duty.
The campus of BC Children’s Hospital just got a big dose of doggie love in the form of 16 furry recruits.
This summer, 16 new therapy dogs became “Canine Good Neighbours” in order to bring joy to patients and staff alike.
The good news comes from the hard work of the Volunteer Resources team, canine community partners, and the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation to recruit the dogs through their unique Pet Therapy Program.
“These dog therapy teams have an innate sense of finding those who need that extra bit of TLC,” Volunteer Resources Coordinator, Cynthia Vallance tells OhMyDog!.
“It is not uncommon to see these dogs gently directing their handler to a child in pain or a caregiver who is worried. The pawsitive impact is immediate and the joy immense.”
Ladies and gentleman...the class of 2021. Dogs big and small. Curly and spotted. A lot of doodle-crosses. And all good at their jobs.
But becoming a certified therapy pet isn’t a walk in the park. Only some make the cut to become the top dogs. However, those dogs who don’t pass the class shouldn’t have their tails too far between their legs. They can always try again.
The dogs that complete a baseline evaluation are then invited to visit hospital staff and are looked at how well they fit in the hospital surroundings.
“If they enjoy the environment, are well behaved and work well as a team, we invite them to try out for our child engagement assignments,” explains Vallance.
“We are working with local dog trainers to develop a specialized test called the Assessment for Child Evaluation (ACE). This means they are put through a secondary evaluation to ensure they are OK working with patients and interacting in a broader way within a hospital environment.”
The evaluations aren't the only things putting these dogs to the test. There’s also the challenge of being a therapy dog in a Covid-coloured world.
The creativity of Covid Canine Therapy
If anyone has visited a loved one in a hospital during the pandemic, they know how challenging it can be to connect in the not-so-normal world. Therapy dogs and their handlers face the same hurdles we do, distancing their dog healing for safety.
“With fewer direct patient visits during the pandemic, the response has been fantastic,” says Vallance. “We continue to witness the healing power of pet therapy.”
With exceptional creative solutions by the team and the hospital’s Child Life Specialist, dog therapy has continued and adapted to the new landscape.
Take Bingo - led so wonderfully (and bang-on for Bingo’s namesake) by...dogs.
“Virtual Bingo became a big hit,” says Vallance. “Dogs were fantastic at selecting the numbers. We also found that virtual events allowed patients who normally could not attend, such as children on dialysis or isolation, could now join the fun.”
This round of dogs is bringing a lot of immediate therapy to the hospital - but BC Children’s is always on the lookout for the next furry physician.
If you would like to see if your pup is made for this rewarding line of work, you can contact volunteer services and put your dog through the testing. There’s never too much puppy love to spread around.