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Working Like a Dog: A Furry Friend Helps Our Youth Cope 

Let’s face it, we all need a hug sometimes and we are fortunate that Kenzie is more than willing to oblige. 

Every Saturday, for the past few weeks, David and his certified therapy dog, Kenzie, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, have been visiting our Drop-in Centre, to interact with the youth and provide comfort and support. David and Kenzie are the most recent additions to our volunteer program. They found their way to us through the St. John Ambulance program.  

The room has consistently been filled with eager youth who accept love and cuddles from Kenzie. One of our youth workers, who helps run the program said that he hears lots of “awwwws” and really sees all the youth relax, let their guard down, and soak in the joy of spending time with Kenzie. 
For youth experiencing hardship, trauma, and challenging times, any opportunity to be worry- and stress-free is tremendous. Creating a moment and space for youth to breathe, let go of their stress, and relax is critical to their well-being; which is why staff advocated for this program.

Dogs offer social support, love, and acceptance in a way that humans can’t. Studies have shown that after interacting with a therapy dog, people feel less stressed and less anxious. Spending time with a therapy dog is known to have several other health benefits such as:

  • lowering blood pressure
  • lowering heart rate
  • lowering cortisol level
  • reducing the feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • releasing endorphins, also known as the happy hormone
  • fostering a sense of belonging

Many universities and hospitals across North America have therapy dogs on site to provide solace and comfort during a period of stress and trauma. 

Covenant house is committed to serve all youth with relentless support, absolute respect, and unconditional love, and this was an incredible way for us to create a nurturing environment and safe space for our youth to thrive in. It is all thanks to incredible volunteers like David, who got involved to show his commitment to our cause and our youth. David has been dedicating his Saturdays to Covenant House with Kenzie, knowing that her presence can significantly impact our youth and help remove barriers like loneliness, isolation, and stress.  

If you or someone you know has a certified therapy dog and is interested in volunteering, please contact