Therapy dog program gets a treat from Regina REALTORS®

Left to right: REALTOR® Wanda Smith, REALTOR® and St. John Ambulance volunteer Margie Lynch, Association of Regina REALTORS® CEO Gord Archibald, REALTOR® Lane Bogehean, REALTOR® Ian Johnston and St. John Ambulance Director of Community Services Ashley Balysky. They are all joined by Taffy the Scottish Terrier. (Submitted photo)
Left to right: REALTOR® Wanda Smith, REALTOR® and St. John Ambulance volunteer Margie Lynch, Association of Regina REALTORS® CEO Gord Archibald, REALTOR® Lane Bogehean, REALTOR® Ian Johnston and St. John Ambulance Director of Community Services Ashley Balysky. They are all joined by Taffy the Scottish Terrier. (Submitted photo)

Regina REALTORS® had the opportunity to get paws-on at the University of Regina recently to see just how St. John Ambulance is making the most of a $5,000 grant they received to support their Therapy Dog program.

Therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers provide comfort, companionship and joy to people throughout Saskatchewan, working in a variety of settings, including airports, senior homes and schools, like the University of Regina.

“Some of these kids are away from home for the first time. They may have a pet they’re missing. Having a few minutes with the dogs is comforting to them, and may take away some of the home sickness,” said Margie Lynch, a Regina REALTOR® and a St. John Ambulance volunteer handler.

The REALTORS® saw some students visit for a few minutes to get in a few pats, while others remained for the full two hours to enjoy the companionship of the furry friends.

“People walk in, they may be feeling stress, or upset about something that’s happening in their lives, and they leave with a different outlook. They’re happier; the dogs boost their morale,” said Ashley Balysky, Director of Community Services with St. John Ambulance.

First-year music student Olivia Reid told CBC News she’s a regular visitor of the dogs.

“I feel refreshed and I just feel like I’m ready to take on the day and the week ahead, and I always look forward to it,” she said.

Each year, the Association of Saskatchewan REALTORS® Quality of Life Legacy Fund provides grants to charitable organizations who are working to improve the quality of lives of those in the community.

“We love that St. John Ambulance has taken up this project,” said Bill Madder, CEO of the Association of Saskatchewan REALTORS®. “It’s a unique way to improve quality of life – and that’s the goal of our legacy fund. The therapy dogs provide a reminder that even the simplest of things can make a big difference in someone’s life.”

The Quality of Life Legacy initiative awards grants to six community organizations from different regions of the province on an annual basis. The Legacy Grant Program will begin accepting applications once again in January 2017. More information can be found on the ASR’s Quality of Life website.

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