There is a new staff member at Hospice Orillia - a four-legged, furry canine named Trooper.
The Lab-Retriever mix will "work" with the Volunteer Visitors and Bereavement Services programs as a facility dog.
Trooper trained for two years in the Canine Opportunity People Empowerment (COPE) service dog program where he learned to provide social interaction and therapeutic intervention.
A facility dog is different from other therapy dogs because they’re trained to work with a handler in a facility setting.
Amanda Tevelde, communications and fundraising coordinator for Hospice Orillia, says the organization has toyed with the idea of adding a facility dog to their staff for quite some time.
“We deal with at the end of life and bereavement care for individuals. A lot of them suffer from anxiety, social anxiety and even opening up with their feelings, which can be really difficult,” Tevelde explained.
“It’s been proven that having a facility or service dog around those clients makes it easier for them to decrease their stress levels.”
Trooper hasn’t yet seen any clients as he continues his training with his handlers at Hospice Orillia. However, he is already making a big impact on the organization.
“Even when he’s in the office at some points, the difference with him being here is something you can feel. It’s more relaxed and a wonderful environment,” Tevelde said.
“Trooper has been a great fit so far, and the volunteers and our community who have been made aware of him have responded really great.”
Tevelde believes Trooper will take Hospice Orillia to new heights and allow for their programs and services to be accessed by more people in need.
“I think this will enable us to reach more clients as well - people who might not have previously approached us might be now more willing to use our services because people love animals. It helps them to relax,” she said.
Trooper has his own webpage on the Hospice Orillia website which you can find here.
Hospice Orillia is also looking to partner with a pet store to help with the cost of Trooper's supplies. Potential sponsors interested in supporting Hospice Orillia and Trooper should email Tevelde at firstname.lastname@example.org.