Meet Tillie, who will be going out with her handler, Tricia Liversidge, visiting workplaces around Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. (Special to The News)

Meet Tillie, who will be going out with her handler, Tricia Liversidge, visiting workplaces around Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. (Special to The News)

Therapy dogs kicking off in-person visits across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

The St. John Ambulance Work Like a Dog Day takes place Aug. 5

St. John Ambulance is looking for schools, care homes, or workplaces who would like to receive an in-person visit from one of their four-legged volunteers.

Pets and cuddles is the only form of compensation required.

On August 5, St. John Ambulance B.C. and Yukon will be kicking off their therapy dog program after a year in hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Work Like a Dog Day will see therapy dogs and their handlers make one-hour visits to a variety of workplaces to give employees a stress-free and joyful work break. They are also offering individuals or teams working remotely 20 minute virtual visits.

“Work Like a Dog Day is all about celebrating those who put in that extra effort and care all year long to their work,” said Anna Boekhoven, manager of fund development and partnerships at St. John Ambulance B.C. and Yukon.

“Given that our therapy dog teams are the most caring workers we know, we thought this was the perfect day to reunite them with their communities,” she noted.

So far volunteer Tricia Liversidge and her dog Tillie will be visiting workplaces across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. They can accomodate up to 10 workplace visits from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day of the event.

Before the pandemic, the charity’s canine volunteers would visit facilities like hospitals, care homes, schools, workplaces, and more on a weekly basis.

During the in-person visits, employees will be able to pet, cuddle, and take pictures with the visiting therapy dog. Virtual visits will give participants the opportunity to learn about the dog and the importance of their volunteer role. They will be able to ask questions, share their own stories, and watch the dog show off tricks.

READ MORE: St. John Ambulance providing ‘pawsitive’ support with virtual therapy dog event

Burke, a Bernese mountain dog, has been a St. John Ambulance therapy dog for the Vancouver division since 2018 and his handler, Carey McBeth, said they have been looking forward to the return of volunteering for a long time.

“Burke has really missed the weekly routine of putting on his ‘work’ bandana and heading out to make new friends, so we’re thrilled to be a part of this event. No matter where we visit, his presence always seems to make everyone smile and throughout the years he has helped people of all ages through some tough times,” said McBeth.

RELATED: Children read to therapy dogs at Langley library

St. John Ambulance is a humanitarian organization with more than 900 years of international history.

The charity – whose mission is to improve people’s health, safety, and quality of life – has operated in B.C. since 1911. Every year the charity trains more than 65,000 students in B.C. and Yukon in first aid and CPR.

Its volunteers also provide hundreds of thousands of hours of community service through the charity’s medical first responder, therapy dog, and youth programs.

The goal of Work Like a Dog Day is to show appreciation to employees who worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and also to welcome back those who are returning to in-office work.

“The workplace teams get the opportunity to take a well-deserved puppy break, and our therapy dogs get an unlimited amount of attention and pets for up to an hour. It’s a win-win situation!” said Boekhoven, adding that interactions with therapy dogs have been proven to decrease stress levels, anxiety, and simply provide moments of joy.

To book a therapy dog in-person or virtual visit this Work Like a Dog Day, or to donate to the therapy dog program, email bcy.fundraising@sja.ca.

Bookings close at 5 p.m. on July 30.

For more information go to supportsja.ca/work-like-a-dog.


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