Therapy dog helps ease holiday stress

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SASKATOON – A Saskatoon English bulldog is being put to work to help ease the stress of the holidays at a local seniors home.

The holidays can be stressful for a number of reasons such as the weather, financial pressure and loneliness.

“A lot of us have a hard time living in the moment. We might live in the past,” said Dr. Colleen Dell, U of S Abuse Research Chair.

“But the dogs allow us to live in the moment because that’s where they are.”

Anna-Belle is a certified therapy dog, her handler Colleen Dell is on her sabbatical from the University of Saskatchewan.

Since she can’t travel anywhere because of her three dogs, she’s been using them as her subjects and researching dog therapy.

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Dell has been bringing Anna-Belle to Brightwater Senior Living in Stonebridge twice a month since March.

“When we walk in the front door it’s kind of like cheers instead of ‘hey,” said Dell.

“At Christmas time it’s exciting to have Anna-Belle come any other dogs and kids. Its pets and kids that seems to just bring the pure joy to the faces of our residents,” said Lennette Hazelwanter, executive director at Brightwater.

Close bonds have been made between Anna-Belle and some of the residents.

“I’m just happy that my son was here he saw her and he encouraged me to come out and play,” said Reuben Ziolkowski, Bright Water resident.

Dell also takes Anna-Belle to the U of S to help students relieve some pressure brought on by studies and being away from home.

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