Meet Hero, a remarkable dog with a calming disposition and a natural desire to connect with people. Adopted by pet owner Eric Spencer, an IT Manager at Harbourfront Wealth Management, Hero has been volunteering with Saint John’s Ambulance for the last four years, participating in a variety of pet therapy programs.
Together, Eric and Hero have attended numerous public and private events, including the Vancouver Public Library Canine Library event, weekly visits to a Vancouver long-term care home with 200 residents and 20 mental health clients, and more recently, weekly visits with BC Children and Women’s Hospital.
Pet therapy provides a welcome distraction for patients, staff, children, and students alike. By bringing people together with a four-legged source of unconditional love, pet therapy can help temporarily remove individuals from their current situation, providing a much-needed respite.
For patients in long-term care facilities, pet therapy can also provide an opportunity to talk about their favourite pets, helping to maintain a sense of connection to their life outside of the facility. Hospitals are increasingly trying to normalize difficult situations and provide a calming distraction for both patients and healthcare workers.
Hero and Eric have been making a real difference in the lives of those they meet. And it’s not just the people who benefit; Hero gets the extra attention such a good dog deserves, and Eric and other pet therapy volunteers have shared in the experience a joy of giving back.
Pet therapy has been studied extensively at the University of British Columbia, with research suggesting it has a calming effect on students and travelers at UBC. But for those who have experienced it firsthand, the benefits are clear: a chance to connect with a remarkable animal and feel the unconditional love they offer.
Thank you, Hero and Eric, and all the volunteer pets and their owners who make a difference through pet therapy programs like those offered by Saint John’s Ambulance. You are truly Harbourfront Heroes!