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Powell River Therapy Dogs lap up love and attention at parade event

Handlers and four-legged friends visit residents at health-care facilities

St. John Ambulance held its second annual Therapy Dog Parade on July 4 with a kickoff in front of Willingdon Creek Village and visits to Kiwanis Village and Evergreen Care Unit.

The parade was arranged as a substitute for residents who have missed regular visits with their four-legged friends, which were interrupted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was awesome,” said Deb Maitland, unit facilitator for Powell River Therapy Dogs. “There were so many residents outside and in the windows. Also, this time there were lots of Kiwanis residents lined up on the sidewalks and in the foyer of the parking lot. It was so much fun for everyone.”

Dog handlers and volunteers waved, held posters and said hello as they passed by.

Maitland said the local therapy dog team met to recertify their dogs. Due to the pandemic, the canines have not been “working” and needed to be assessed for their basic obedience and to ensure they still had the qualities, health and temperament necessary for a position of responsibility, she added.

Powell River’s therapy dog evaluator Rita-Boehler Wiebe met with each dog and handler individually and reported that all dogs present passed the recertification.

After the recertification process, the therapy dog team hosted a window parade for residents of Willingdon Creek Village, Kiwanis Village and Evergreen Care Unit.

“Dogs and handlers were greeted by the residents of each facility,” said Maitland. “Some were at the windows and many were in the lobby and on the sidewalks enthusiastically greeting both dogs and handlers.”

Maitland said the therapy dogs lapped up all of the love and attention.

“There was an impressive turnout of both dogs, handlers and facility residents,” she added. “It was a spectacular day that brought lots of smiles and warmth to everyone.”

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