SAITSA brings therapy dogs to comfort students before midterms

Therapy dogs helped SAIT students reduce stress ahead of midterm tests at a SAITSA-sponsored event.

Students were able to play with volunteer therapy dogs from PALS (Pet Access League Society) on Dog Day on Feb. 23 at the Student Support Centre.

Ayu Pratama was one of about 35 people who visited the PALS therapy dogs at the Student Support Centre. She was happy and excited to interact with the dogs, she said.

“A therapy dog is born because it’s a personality,” said Pam Pastirik, a volunteer with PALS and the owner of Tally, a golden retriever that attended Dog Day.

She explained that there is an interviewing process that dogs go through before they become therapy dogs with PALS.

“There are people interviews and a dog intake where they are exposed to unusual things they may encounter. After the intake process they are either accepted or refused,” Pastirik said.

The PALS therapy dogs offer their services at many different locations across the city, including senior homes, schools, hospitals, post-secondary institutions and jail remand centres.

“We all have different regular placements,” Pastirik said, adding that Tally is a regular at the Carewest facilities, which include long-term care and rehabilitation services, and SAIT.

Helger Fast and his dog Cardhu have been with PALS for two years. He feels rewarded when he takes Cardhu to seniors’ homes, he said, adding that many seniors are initially upset or mad but when they see Cardhu, they smile.

“[Cardhu has] been in a library where they have a reading program for young kids who have a language problem,” Fast said. “The dog is not going to be critical or anything like that, so it’s good.”

Heather Rutherford and Tommy, her mixed rescue dog, have been volunteering with PALS for three years. Together, they visit the remand centre, nursing homes, homeless shelters and youth homes.

Rutherford said she feels safe in the remand centre and homeless shelters with Tommy.

Tally loves the attention: SAITSA held dog day where they invited volunteer dogs from PALS (Pet Access League Society) to visit students Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. (Photo by Tina Amini/The Press)
Tally Loves Attention: SAITSA held Dog Day when volunteer dogs from PALS (Pet Access League Society) visited students Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016. (Photo by Tina Amini/The Press)
About Tina Amini 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Tina Amini worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2015-16 academic year.