Langley dog handler Ashten Black and her nine-year-old Border Collie-cross are ready to help the community de-stress on Stress Awareness Day, Friday, April 16, 2020. Book a virtual visit with the pair and help support the St. John Ambulance dog therapy program (Graham Spence Photography/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Langley dog handler Ashten Black and her nine-year-old Border Collie-cross are ready to help the community de-stress on Stress Awareness Day, Friday, April 16, 2020. Book a virtual visit with the pair and help support the St. John Ambulance dog therapy program (Graham Spence Photography/Special to Langley Advance Times)

‘He’s the magic at the end of a leash’: Langley therapy dog provides virtual joy

Stress Awareness Day is Friday

“Please never stop doing what you do.”

This is the request made to Langley handler Ashten Black and her therapy dog PIG while they were visiting a burn unit pre-pandemic, and an ask Black says has always stuck with her.

“I wish I was eloquent enough to express the impact of this program,” she said. “This program should be everywhere; the support from the public would really help us to do that.”

The program Black refers to is the St. John Ambulance therapy dog program, which has been put on pause since COVID-19 restrictions were put in place that prevented in-person gatherings.

But Black is hoping that will change this summer. On Friday, Stress Awareness Day, the charitable organization is providing virtual canine comfort to those in need.

“What’s really lovely with dogs is that they can connect without the need for language,” she explained. “They’re so good at anticipating the emotional needs and doing it in a way that is very approachable.”

In the 15-minute visits, participants can expect to hear about the dog and their volunteer work, learn about the importance of dogs when it comes to mental health, and be able to ask questions or share their own stories.

READ MORE: St. John Ambulance providing ‘pawsitive’ support with virtual therapy dog event

Proceeds from the fundraiser will support the therapy dog program.

“People don’t realize that its volunteer,” Black noted.

It’s been over a year since the pandemic was declared, and frontline workers haven’t faltered. It is individuals in these high-stress circumstances who benefit most from therapy dogs like PIG, Black says, so it’s unfortunate they haven’t been able to meet them in-person.

“We know how important it’s going to be for us to be able to come back and visit in-person,” she said.

According to a survey done by the Canadian Mental Health Association, cited by St. John Ambulance, 42 per cent of British Columbians said that their mental health has deteriorated since the onset of the pandemic. Interactions with therapy dogs have been proven to help decrease stress levels, loneliness, and simply provide moments of undistracted joy, according to the charity.

Pre-pandemic, PIG, who is named after the animal in the movie Babe, would visit places like hospitals, care homes, the 9-1-1 dispatch centre and libraries, where he encourages kids to read to him.

“PIG doesn’t judge, he just wants you to read to him,” Black said.

Black rescued the border-collie cross from a shelter in Whitehorse, Yukon. The pair have been working and volunteering together since 2018, only recently settling in Langley where they will cover the Langley, Surrey, Delta region.

“He’s very good at knowing when someone needs a little something more, and that’s not something I can teach him,” Black said about PIG.

Although Friday’s event will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Black encourages others interested in accessing their services to connect with the charity to learn more.

To book a virtual visit for Friday make a $10 or $20 donation to the therapy dog program at https://supportsja.ca/stress-awareness-day. After making a donation, an email will be sent to choose a time slot.

For more information email bcy.fundraising@sja.ca, or visit www.supportsja.ca/therapydogs

“He’s the magic at the end of a leash,” Black said about PIG.


@JotiGrewal_
joti.grewal@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

DogsLangley

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

After Bobby Henderson apologized online for his comments to a Toronto reporter, the Langley Rivermen announced that he was no longer team coach and general manager and in fact, had ‘parted ways’ with the franchise in March. (file/Twitter)
Former Langley Rivermen coach and GM apologizes for comments to Toronto reporter

Bobby Henderson blames stress due to the pandemic for his ‘disparaging’ remarks

Nurses Ann Bason and Brandon Hunt stand outside the new Langley Memorial Hospital entrance (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Working during a pandemic; what it’s like for two nurses at Langley Memorial Hospital

COVID has changed a lot, but not their devotion to their profession

Kay Palmer and Doris Riedweg were nurses at Langley Memorial Hospital for several years. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Retired Langley nurses loved caring careers

Langley Hospital Heritage Committee members share historical perspective for National Nurses Week

Barbara-Ann Kubb is a nurse and manager at the long-term care facilities that include Langley's hospice. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Langley hospice nurses feel calling for end-of-life care

It’s a tough job, but one that has rewards, says Langley hospice nursing manager

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Most Read