LEC commends newspaper for coverage of important initiative
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 — Deron Hamel
Woodland Villa life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) Lisa Doran is applauding a local newspaper for recent articles highlighting the Long Sault home’s pet-therapy program.
The Cornwall Standard Freeholder recently published feature stories about how volunteer Bridget Le Touze and her St. John Ambulance therapy dog, Finnigan, visit the home’s residents every two weeks.
Le Touze and Finnigan recently received the Cornwall District Kennel Club trophy for completing the most volunteer hours in the region. The duo also was awarded the St. Joseph’s Continuing Healthcare Centre trophy, which recognizes the team that best represents the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program.
The newspaper wanted to publish a story with a photograph of Le Touze and Finnigan volunteering, and wanted to conduct the interview while the pair was volunteering. Le Touze suggested Woodland Villa, so reporter Lois Ann Baker stopped by during the home’s pet-therapy program one day.
“I really enjoyed the story,” Doran says.
“She said we’re a friendly home and that they enjoy coming here. It was an honour for us, too, (because) we really enjoy having them come here.”
Doran says the pet-therapy program brings a lot of value to residents. When Le Touze and Finnigan are at Woodland Villa, they circle the home, visiting rooms that are marked with a paw print. This sign means residents have requested a visit.
Doran says the atmosphere is always upbeat when Le Touze and Finnigan visit. In fact, many of the home’s 111 residents look forward to the program.
To qualify as a therapy dog, Finnigan went through a lengthy training program. Finnigan has a gentle nature and responds well to residents, Doran says. “The residents are happy when they see an animal come in, and Finnigan is a very friendly dog.”
The St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program’s website explains the positive impact animals can have on people with cognitive impairment.
“Through petting, affection, and regular visitation of a dog, patients/residents find peace in the gentle contact with the dog and in its quiet presence,” the site says. “(People) talk more to others, participate in activities, eat and sleep better, smile more. As a result their quality of life is improved.”
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