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

Around the BCHL: Merritt, Chilliwack and Coquitlam early-season surprises

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s going on in the league and throughout the junior A world.

Chilliwack ready for legalization with zoning and business bylaw changes

Cannabis retailers in Chilliwack will have to rezone property to open a storefront

BCTF wins grievance over teacher shortage in Chilliwack schools

Arbitrator found Chilliwack school district did not hire enough on-call teachers or librarians

About 400 lined up for lunch and community connections in Chilliwack

Chilliwack organizer calls Winter Warm-Up 2018 a ‘wonderful collaboration’

Six Sto:lo chiefs sign MOU agreement affirming Indigenous rights

Moving to next phase of nation-to-nation negotiation in preparation for final treaty

Rick Mercer says pot is ‘excruciatingly boring’

Comedian hopes Canadians will move onto something else once marijuana is legalized

U.S. pot firms urge Trump to dominate North American marijuana industry

Cannabis producers claim the U.S. is “rapidly losing” its competitive advantage to Canada

Battle resumes over speculation tax on B.C. vacant homes

Opposition calls it ‘fake’ tax that is reducing housing supply

Around the BCHL: Merritt, Chilliwack and Coquitlam early-season surprises

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s going on in the league and throughout the junior A world.

Federal government tables bill to transform prisoner segregation

Administrative and disciplinary segregation will be eliminated by Ottawa

CFL expecting little to no impact from legalization of marijuana in Canada

The league tests only for performance-enhancing substances and not recreational drugs like cannabis

Workers at BC Interior mill strike as negotiations resume in Kelowna

Picket lines went up at 4 a.m Tuesday, Oct. 16 at Tolko Lakeview Division in Williams Lake

5 to start your day

Vancouver police chief says they’re ‘ready’ for legal pot, cyclist struck in Surrey and more

Most Read