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Golden lab celebrates his birthday and one year of helping support traumatized kids

Meet Doado, the IWK’s Accredited Facility Dog
WATCH: Alexa MacLean introduces you to Dorado, a golden lab who worked as a facility dog at the IWK. He specialized in providing support to children and families experiencing high levels of stress.

A four-year-old golden labrador who works in Nova Scotia was showered with love for the work he’s done over the past year.

“This is one of my best buddies, Mr. Dorado and Dorado is a facility dog who provides a lot of support to kids and families,” Angela Arra said, a clinical nurse specialist at the IWK.

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Dorado was born in British Columbia, where his training began a few days after his birth.

“He started off at probably about four or five days old, where he had what they call early neurological stimulation. So the breeder would have started exposing the puppies to noises, and lights, and different textures early on and that’s what makes a dog like Dorado able to handle stress,” Arra said.

READ MORE: Therapy dogs soothing patients at the Montreal Neurological Institute

He initially was training to become a service dog, but according to Arra, his natural abilities pointed him in another direction.

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“Dorado decided he didn’t to work with just one person like a service dog would he liked working with lots of people. So, he was career changed to be a facility dog and that’s what his job is here,” she said.

Dorado provides emotional support to children and families who come to the SeaStart Child and Youth Advocacy Centre in Halifax.

“We bring together the different service providers and agencies that may respond when a child has experienced violence or abuse.  We have served about 1,200 families actually since we started five years ago. So, we’re seeing a little over 200 families a year,” Christina Shaffer said, the project co-ordinator at SeaStar.

Shaffer says the program works with children up until about 18 years of age, and Dorado plays a special role in the work they provide.

“Families are often in a time of crisis when we see them,” Shaffer said.

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“Something bad has happened or there’s a concern that something bad may have happened. So to be able to walk in and Dorado be one of the first faces that they see, really just brings the stress level down for everyone.”

Dorado has two handlers who he lives and works with on a daily basis.

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He’s the first Accredited Facility Dog in Atlantic Canada.