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Online visits with therapy dogs offering comfort during coronavirus pandemic

Online visitation with therapy dogs offering comfort during coronavirus pandemic
Therapy dog Anna-Belle will be part of the virtual visits. University of Saskatchewan / Supplied

Online visits with therapy dogs are being offered to provide comfort and support to those tuning in during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

University of Saskatchewan (USask) students and other people in the province can connect with St. John Ambulance therapy dogs and their handlers while learning mental health self-care tips.

READ MORE: U of R team using biometric clothing, $1 million grant to study mental health

Colleen Dell, a sociology professor at the USask College of Arts and Science, said physical distancing doesn’t have to mean disconnecting from supports in people’s lives, including therapy dogs.

“We are fortunate to have the technology to take our service online during COVID-19,” she said in a press release.

“The therapy dog teams care deeply about the well-being of students, staff and faculty on our campus and the people of Saskatchewan. We hope these virtual visits will be helpful to a lot of people who are isolated right now — kids, youth, seniors and adults.”

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The virtual events will take place at least twice a week until the end of July.

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Both live and recorded events uploaded to various social media platforms will feature therapy dogs doing everyday healthy activities, which could include tricks and virtual walks.

READ MORE: USask med students start project to aid health care providers treating coronavirus patients

Online readings of children’s books are also being offered by the PAWS Your Stress program. Therapy dog teams will take part in these sessions through a partnership with Scholastic Canada.

Founded in 2015, the PAWS Your Stress program is a partnership between the USask and the St. John Ambulance therapy dog program.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. All international travellers returning to Saskatchewan are required to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.