Beach Based Sun Therapy Dogs Share Benefits Of Spending Time With Pets To Those In Need – Beach Metro Community News
Sunshine Therapy Dogs Beach Resident Alan Harman with Tico. Photo; Submitted.
By ERIN HORROCKS-POPE
Inspired by the calm joy his daughter’s Bernese Mountain Dog, Hershey, had over everyone he met, Beach resident Alan Harman decided to start an organization to share that joy with those in need.
Since 2020, Sunshine Therapy Dogs has been operating in the neighborhood, working with volunteers who volunteer their time and share their four-legged friend on visits to nursing homes, schools and workplaces.
Harman has been a lifelong dog owner and has always been grateful for the comfort his animal companions have provided to him and his family. Over the past few years, Harman has heard of young and old people going through mental, emotional and spiritual crises more often and decided to take action.
“I figured if I could help bring dogs in the company of young adults and then seniors to senior care facilities, it would be beneficial to them,” Harman said. “There’s a lot of research to show that being around animals helps a lot of people, not everyone, but a lot of people. So it seemed a bit obvious to me. “
Prior to the pandemic, Chartwell Avondale, a retirement home in Leslieville, had organized therapeutic animal visits for residents. Unfortunately, the program has been suspended due to restrictions related to COVID-19.
Earlier this month, Sunshine Therapy Dogs began a new partnership with Chartwell Avondale.
According to Adriana Carola, the facility’s lifestyle and programs manager, residents were delighted with the first visit from two dogs, Maddie and Chico.
“Just sit with them [the dogs] and stroking them just brings a feeling of joy to our residents, ”said Carola. “Their eyes shine and light up when they see the dogs come in and have those kisses. It’s so good to have a program like this in our residence.
Harman hopes more people and their four-legged friends get involved with Sunshine Therapy Dogs so they can offer tours to more facilities.
From his own experience and the experiences of volunteers, Harman knows that getting involved in his organization is not only beneficial for those who use the service, but also for those who volunteer their time and companion.
“It always feels good to give, and really the best thing you can give is this gift of mental wellness to someone in need, and you can’t do it with a check,” he said. -he declares. “As a volunteer, you just need to show up with your dog and sit down and let something wonderful happen. “
According to the Sunshine Therapy Dogs website, “dogs are playing an increasingly important role in the management of mental health.” Many young adults and the elderly suffer from loneliness, anxiety and stress, and the benefits of interactions with animals can help reduce these symptoms, the website said.
If you would like to volunteer with Sunshine Therapy Dogs or bring them to your workplace for a session, visit https://www.sunshinetherapydogs.ca/ or call 416-315-2673.