A Canine Companion

A Canine Companion

Beloved dogs like Cabot the Newfoundland Dog provide compassion, comfort and care through the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program 

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Life at the office can be a grind. Sure, the work is great, something you can sink your teeth into and feel passionate about, but, like anything, there are days that can get you down. 

Imagine the glee of us office folk to see a shaggy, tail-wagging, loveable Newfoundland Dog strut through the door.

Therapy Dog program 

That was the case when the staff at The Newfoundland Herald met Cabot and his owner Ashely Chaulk. Cabot is a five-year-old Newfoundland Dog, who, alongside his owner, has been volunteering with the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program since 2017.

The St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program has been visiting with senior citizens in long-term care facilities in the province for over a decade, but recent years have seen the expansion of the program to Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre, Waterford Hospital, Palliative Care, Ronald McDonald House, Memorial University, as well as facilities such as Choices For Youth, The Tommy Sexton Centre, Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, Tuckermore Youth Centre, District School and more. 

For their part, Ashley and Cabot visit at Stella’s Circle, Marguerite’s Place, and The Miller Centre. The gentle and sweet dog brightens the day of everyone he comes into contact with. 

“When our family was looking to add a dog to our family we knew a Newfoundland was for us. According to their breed standard “sweetness of temperament is the hallmark of the breed”. Cabot definitely lives up to this attribute and is a very calm and gentle boy in our chaotic home,” says Chaulk. 

According to the fine folks at St. John Ambulance, therapy dog volunteers give approximately 5,000 hours of community services volunteer time, and provide over 17,000 friendly visits each year here in this province. 

Immediate de-stressor

Now in its second year, the Therapy Dog Sponsorship Program allows companies to bring the same unconditional love and affection to staff members.  Therapy Dog visits are an immediate de-stressor for workers and also help improve morale in the workplace, something we here at The Herald can attest to. 

Extensive research has shown that animal-assisted therapy interactions help improve the mental, social, emotional, and even physical functions of those they visit with.  What better way to brighten the day for hard-working staff? 

This Therapy Dog Sponsorship Program is a perfect complement to any mental health programs and initiatives that organizations may be implementing. 

“Cabot and I both enjoy volunteering with the Therapy Dog Program,” says Chualk. “Cabot LOVES meeting new people  and all the attention that comes with it. Once he puts on his therapy dog bandana he assumes the role of greeter and will visit with every individual he sees.

“For me, I come from a social work background and was looking for a way to be involved in the community,” Chaulk adds. “The Therapy Dog Program seemed like a good fit for us to be able to do some good to individuals who could use some pet therapy for various reasons.”

All funds raised from the Sponsorship Program will support St. John Ambulance Community Services volunteers locally.  For more information, please contact sja@nl.sja.ca or call (709) 726-4200.

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