Dorado is only three years old but he’s just started a new job at the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax.
Dorado specializes in providing comfort and support to children, youth and families who may have experienced violence or abuse. Dorado works and lives with Kathy Bourgeois, a social worker and his primary handler.
“My job, and now his job, is to provide support for these kids to tell their story,” said Bourgeois.
“He provides support to kids before the interview and he’s actually accredited to support kids even to testify in court.”
Dorado is the first accredited facility dog in Atlantic Canada and the 29th dog working in Canada in this type of role — supporting victims and those who have experienced trauma.
“He’s kind of a special dog,” said Bourgeois.
“He’s sort of a hybrid between a therapy dog where he engages with people and a service dog because he has to pass all the public access kids to be able to support kids in court.”
Dorado started training when he was just four days old. He can lie quietly for an extended period of time, not initiate contact unless invited and is able to remain calm when other people become distressed.
“Dorado has been a great addition to the team,” said Dr. Amy Ornstein, division head for general pediatrics at the IWK.
“What I have seen is that he really brings a really nice, calm vibe to the space, which is important because you know, often the patients and families that we see are going through a tough time, it can be the assessment can be challenging and its nice to have that air about him that he brings to the space.”
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Officials say Dorado can help reduce anxiety and trauma.
“They can smell the cortisol release when you get stressed and dogs are able to emit unconditional love and support and studies have shown that connection with the dog will actually increase your oxytocin and serotonin, happy hormones, and make you feel better,” said Angela Arra-Robar, a registered nurse.
Dorado wears a vest at work but when he’s off the clock, he’s just a regular pup.
“In our yard or when we’re at an off-leash park you can really see it. He’s very, very fast. He loves to jump and play and run through the forest,” said Bourgeois.