On Thursday afternoon there will be a special celebration to pay tribute to the therapy dogs of CAMH.
For the past 13 years, these dogs with jobs and their volunteer owners have been bringing comfort and joy to patients in treatment programs throughout CAMH.
“Medical studies have shown stroking and patting a dog has a calming effect that can lower blood pressure and ease tension,” says CAMH Volunteer Resource Coordinator Theresa Conforti. “Visits allow spontaneous interaction between the pet and client, with no specific treatment goals beyond the unconditional acceptance the pet offers.”
The pet therapy program continues to expand, with another 10 dogs joining in the new year, bringing the total up to 50.
All of the therapy dog owners who participate in the program commit to bringing their furry friends to meet CAMH patients once a week for at least a year. Before their dogs can get their official CAMH photo ID badges, lanyards and purple bandanas, they have to go through an evaluation and certification process to make sure their temperament is suitable for the program.
Then it’s off to work.
“When I was sick and in treatment, being with those therapy dogs inspired me to want to get better,” says Victorina, who will be there on Thursday to express her gratitude for the role the pet therapy program played in her recovery.
You can tune in to the first ever CAMH Pet Therapy Dog Show as it happens live on our Facebook page beginning at 1:30 pm.
Until then, here are just a few of the therapy dogs who work hard to make people healthy and happy.