Therapy Dogs Celebrate Assistance Animal Day
Prince George, B.C.- They say every dog has its day, and tomorrow, that day has come as it is dedicated to honour Assistance Animals.
Max, Yogi and Henry aren’t technically assistance animals, although they do assist in a number of ways. They are Therapy Dogs, offering comfort and assurance to those helped by Prince George RCMP’s Victim Services.
(At right, Max, Yogi and Henry on a walk -photo courtesy PG Victim Services)
In honour of Assistance Animal Day, the Prince George RCMP Victim Services’ Crisis Response and Therapy Dog Team are hosting a meet and greet at the local Detachment. From 3-4 pm tomorrow at the PG RCMP detachment, the public can meet the dog team, and take part in some fun events.
Max , the yellow lab , is already well known in the community, having comforted those at the police station, or witnesses appearing in court, and even a juror who was overcome with emotion. There are two smaller dogs now undergoing training to join the Therapy Dog team, they are Yogi (a pug) and Henry (a Schnauzer/Shitzu cross).
The two new recruits, are catching along well in their training, says Krista Levar, Victim Services Coordinator with the Prince George RCMP “Yogi for instance is really motivated. He wants to do one trick after another, he just wants to rush through them, so he’ll do the sit, stay, lay, back to back, so it’s no, slow down, let’s do them one at a time. Henry is a bit calmer and a little bit more mellow. He will try to please, but he does it slower, which is actually what you want.”
Having smaller dogs as part of the Dog Therapy team is important says Levar, “It’s new, I like it, especially with the court situation as Max is quite big. When he’s on the witness stand with kids, he takes up the whole box with them. I just thought it would be neat to see how a little guy who is a little more portable, can fit. Little guys can just sit on a person’s lap if needed, they are just a little more portable. If I bring Max, I know that I have to have a safe place for them to walk, whereas with the little guys, you can pick them up and carry them if need be.”
Monday’s event will also be good training ground for the new recruits “Any kind of opportunity where you take them to new environments, that’s 100% of what we’re doing, getting them to know what it’s like to be in crowds, to know what it’s like to be around loud noises and also to get them familiar with the police station itself and also just being around lots of kids, lots of things. It gives us a chance to see what their strengths are and where they need more training.”
Levar says events will include putting the dogs through their paces, “We might even have an ice cream eating contest between the two little guys. I wouldn’t include Max in that because he would just gobble up the ice cream in one gulp and win. There will be cookies and things for kids, just an opportunity to find out more about what they( the dogs) do and how they work and where they work.”
“Max and the little guys are not Assistance Dogs, they are therapy dogs ” says Levar, “But they are supporting their Assistance Dog brothers and sisters who are in the world helping others.”