Our newest member of the Kitsilano Smiles team is also our furriest. Bella is a Leonberger puppy who came to us in April, and frequently visits our office. She is friendly, gentle, and a joy to have around, quietly napping and sometimes rousing herself to greet patients.
Although still a puppy, Bella is very unassertive and obedient, which are some of the reasons we plan for her to become a therapy dog. She in fact comes from a family of service dogs, including her cousin, Scout. Scout works in Hamilton, Ontario, as a member of St. Joe’s Forensic Mental Health team. He comes from Bella‘s place of origin, Concorde Ridge Leonbergers, who donated Scout to the hospital so that he could be embedded directly into patients’ recovery journeys. Scout‘s handler, recreational therapist Ashley Palmer, identifies four goals set by the hospital which indeed set the template for an effective therapy dog:
- Decrease depression;
- Increase social interaction skills;
- Reduce isolation through touch and connection; and
- Support emotional outlets and build on coping skills.
Bella’s warm personality is already unofficially meeting most of this criteria. Come by and meet her when you’re next in the neighbourhood!