1. How did Izzi get started in dog therapy?
A friend of mine used to take her dog to Sunnyside to visit the seniors and she told me about this dog therapy program through St. John’s Ambulance. Izzi went through many tests to ensure she was not skittish around wheelchairs and walkers. After a year in the program, the dogs are then able to take a child test to ensure they react well with children. Izzi passed with flying colours, she loves children and the attention. We first starting going to the Waterloo library, but soon it became apparent that Izzi wanted more than stories; she wanted to play. We heard about the women and children at Women’s Crisis Services and we knew it would be a perfect fit.
2. What does a typical visit look like for you and Izzi?
The women and children vary from time to time but it is always play time for Izzi. She loves to show off her tricks and the kids reward her with treats. On nice days, we take Izzi outside in the park and she shows her sliding talents. I used to go to a park near a cottage I visited and we would practice going down the slide. When the slide is big enough, she lies flat on her belly and all 4 paws are out, as she soars down the slide. The children smile from ear to ear because we all understand the fun of slides. There are some children who just love to give her hugs and talk to her. I remember a girl around three years old who would say “she is my favorite dog” and every visit spend a lot of time just hugging Izzi. It is not only the children who bond with Izzi but also the women who have had to leave their pets in a safe place while at the shelter.
3. What do you think your visits mean for the women and children at the shelter?
It is a break from what they are usually thinking about. In these moments the women get to concentrate on the dog and experience a good feeling for a few minutes. Pure joy.
4. What do you think Izzi has to teach us?
Love everybody; she does not judge. Izzi loves people and playing.
5. What do you enjoy doing, outside of the dog therapy program?
I love spending lots of time digitally enhancing photos and pictures and posting on Tumblr. I used to spend hours sketching portraits and now I love working with the digital medium.
A special thanks to Carole and Izzi, who volunteer time each week to lighten the load of the women and children at Anselma House.