WATCH: Therapy dogs ‘paws’ at Sardis Library to help young readers

St. John Ambulance therapy dogs are the perfect audience for readers still building their confidence

This spring, reading aloud is allowed at the Sardis Library when the St. John Ambulance’s four-legged, furry tutors stop by to help junior readers build their confidence.

“The Tail Waggin’ Tutors program is (also) called Paws for a Story,” said Sue Unwin, who directs the program for the local St. John Ambulance branch.

“And it’s been going for several years, but mostly in places like Abbotsford, Richmond, and Vancouver. But here in Chilliwack, it’s just beginning to take off.”

The program, which runs from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays from May 16 to Jun. 27, was designed for children who are six- to 12-years-old and may be struggling with their reading, or just want a calming presence to practice with.

“It’s really good for the kids to read to a dog,” Unwin continued. “They don’t feel any pressure, there’s no criticism. A dog will listen to whatever you’re going to say to it.”

But because the program involves young children, the therapy dogs involved have had to go through additional steps to ensure their temperaments.

“With the children’s program, they already had to have at least 10 hours of adult visiting,” said Janet Mahony, who volunteers for the program with her dog, Shaska.

“Then they go through another inspection with children present, and the distractions children can cause, to make sure the dogs don’t show any signs of fear or agitation.

“(The inspector) called the children’s dogs ‘bomb-proof’,” Mahony continued. “They’re the sort of dogs that don’t react to thunderstorms at home—they’re just very, very calm dogs in all circumstances.”

“Therapy dogs make people feel good!” added Cindy Read, whose volunteers with her dog Abi. “You can see the change it makes in people and it’s so rewarding.”

In the past year the number of therapy teams (dog and handler) in the area has grown from five to 25, but Unwin says there still aren’t enough dogs to go around as only five teams have been approved to work with children under 12.

“If you feel your dog is a real people pleaser, knows basic commands, and is quiet and gentle, and you would like to volunteer your time to make a big difference to children, or anybody really, this is a really, really good thing to get involved in.”

For more information, or to schedule a session, please contact the Sardis Library at (604) 858 – 5503.

For more information about the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program, please visit their website at www.SJA.ca.


@SarahGawdin
Sarah.Gawdin@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Flight Fest to take off in Chilliwack once again

After a year-long break, Flight Fest is returning to the Chilliwack airport

B.C. declares state of emergency as wildfires rage

More than 3,300 firefighters are battling more than 500 fires

Chilliwack firefighters douse Yarrow shed fire

No one injured in the Tuesday afternoon blaze

Semi in ditch on Highway 1 in Abbotsford

Westbound traffic backed up Wednesday morning

Chilliwack gymnast to compete in Pan American Championships

Canadian national teamer Zachary Clay travels to Peru in September for international competition.

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

VIDEO: Post-surgery monologue comedy gold

If you’ve ever had surgery with anaesthetic you know the coming out of it process can be a treat.

LETTERS: Doctors speak out on surgical wait times for B.C. patients

‘Governments know they will lose private clinic lawsuit’

Police issue warning that 19-year-old poses ‘significant’ risk to the public

Varinderpal ‘VP’ Gill of Abbotsford involved in Lower Mainland gang conflict, police say

Thieves steal supplies, tools and juice boxes from B.C. summer camp

‘Take a moment to think about who you stole from,’ says Burns Bog Society’s Mark Robertson

5 to start your day

Crews try to raise tug that capsized in Fraser River, fantastical news burger at the PNE and more

Burnaby motorcyclist killed in Vancouver crash

An SUV and a motorcyclist collided early Wednesday morning

Women-owned businesses generate $68,000 less revenue than men’s: survey

When Dionne Laslo-Baker sought a bank loan to expand her burgeoning organic popsicle and freezies business in 2014, she was “shocked” by the feedback she received from one of the bankers.

Most Read