Bringing comfort: a day in the life of a therapy dog

Ocean, the therapy dog in Old Main. (Jennifer Will/The Omega)

Ocean, the therapy dog in Old Main. (Jennifer Will/The Omega)

The St. John’s Ambulance dogs make an appearance every Thursday at TRU to offer stressed-out students some much needed TLC. However, for some of the dogs, TRU isn’t their only stop.

Chris Redekop, a St. John’s therapy dog handler and her dog Ocean, are one of the volunteer teams that come to TRU to offer some therapeutic stress relief. Redekop got into the program before owning Ocean and adopted her so she could continue spreading the love.

“I’ve been involved in the program for about six years and my old girl [Ivory] was physically unable to do the job. So, I retired her in January and I was looking for a new dog that could be my partner so I could continue on with the visitation program. I adopted Ocean about eight and a half months ago and we’ve been a volunteer team since March of this year,” Redekop said.

Before a long day of offering cuddles and kisses, Ocean likes to get ready by having some down time and getting out extra energy.

“We get up and we go for a really good walk, we usually go up into the hills and just get out some of our energy. [Then] go home, have our breakfast, I groom her up, and then we head off to whatever our facility is,” Redekop said.

Along with being a weekly volunteer at TRU’s Therapy Thursday’s, Ocean likes to volunteer wherever else she is needed throughout the week.

“Ocean and I, we do a reading program for special needs kids once a week. We also visit at the senior facility once a week, and we come here. So, we spread the love at a few different places each and every week,” Redekop said.

Redekop says that after a long day of running around, cuddling and playing, Ocean is usually ready for some down time.

“We usually go for a nice long walk, and then she’s pretty tuckered out. So, she has a nice long nap after our visits,” Redekop said.

Redekop adds that this program has been very meaningful for her. The dog’s have a calming effect and have been proven to relieve stress.

“It’s just so rewarding. I got into the program because I struggled with some anxiety and depression issues and having a dog made such a difference for me. I decided I wanted to share it, share her with others,” Redekop said.

You can cuddle with the Ocean and all the other dogs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday in Old Main.