The idea of a therapy dog is widely researched and practiced. A number of universities in Ontario have already caught on to the impact of therapy dogs, with schools like the University of Guelph and Western University incorporating therapy dog programs for students on campus.
The possibility of a trauma dog, which is a therapy dog that undergoes specialized intensive training to learn to treat victims of trauma, is now being explored and initiated in Toronto.
Welcome Dandy the Trauma Dog! Fully certified, Dandy will assist our crisis counsellors as they help victims of crime cope with anxiety pic.twitter.com/4X6VVNZGdv
— Victim Services (@VSToronto) February 6, 2017
Victims Services Toronto (VST), an organization dedicated to providing immediate crisis response and other services to those who have been affected by crime and/or sudden tragedies, has recently introduced Dandy to their team. Dandy is a yellow Labrador retriever that will be helping victims of trauma as part of the organization’s new trauma dog program.
After two years of special training, Dandy made her transition from a therapy dog to a trauma dog. The program’s creator, Bobbie McMurrich, told The Bloor West Villager that he had been considering the possibility of a trauma dog for a while.
Meet Dandy! Dandy is our trained and certified Trauma Dog. She provides support and comfort to Victim Services Toronto's…
“I’ve been thinking about using therapy dogs in a variety of sectors to support patients, and in the mental health professional setting it’s been used to support clients for some time, and I thought it would be fabulous to provide that comfort to our clients,” said McMurrich. “We decided to pursue training her to a higher standard as a trauma dog.”
McMurrich explained that Dandy is “being used to reduce clients’ anxiety and stress levels.” McMurrich also explained that Dandy’s training has taught her to stay with her patient at all times and provide small acts of comfort such as lying at their feet.
Supt. Heinz Kuck told The Villager that he hopes VST can add a few more trauma dogs to their team in the future.
Feature image courtesy of Toronto Police Service via Facebook.