Graduating as the top pup of her class, Olive participated in the SPCA WOOF Program. WOOF, which stands for Working On Our Future, pairs puppies with screened inmates at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility. Through the award-winning program, an SPCA dog expert teaches inmates how to train puppies.
Puppies learn basic skills and are socialized. The inmates learn responsibility, patience and respect – skills that can help change the direction of their lives, too. As one participant explains, “The puppies appreciate what we’re teaching them and we appreciate what they’re teaching us.” To date, more than 700 puppies have successfully completed the program.
While Olive was busy training and dreaming of the day she would be adopted, Kelly was assisting with pet therapy visits dreaming of adopting a new puppy.
“My little shih-tzu mix at home was a nervous little guy, so getting him a new best friend seemed like a good idea,” says Kelly. After learning about adorable adoptable Olive, Kelly pounced on the adoption application. “I put in my application, crossed my fingers and was over the moon to be selected. The day we got to pick her up was great – she saw my son first and immediately cuddled up to him. When we returned home she met our other dog and they became instant best friends.”
With Olive’s WOOF Program training and her affectionate personality, Kelly knew she would be a perfect therapy dog. “She was well socialized with people,” shares Kelly. “She’s a quick learner and it doesn’t take too much for her to catch on to a new command – including giving us high fives!”
Olive became a certified therapy dog and began visiting long-term care homes every week. “She was a hit!” giggles Kelly. Through her therapy visits, Olive brings comfort and provides unconditional love.
“The smiles that she brought out in some of the clients were wonderful and chatting about a sweet little dog has the ability to bring up some special memories, especially for some of our seniors,” says Kelly. “Of course, not everyone is at the same cognitive or mental space at the same time, and one particularly sweet moment was when a client inquired about the wool on my little sheep. It was a good opportunity to practice being in the moment with the client and just allowing her to experience the joy of an animal.”
Kelly shared that the most special part of Olive being a therapy pet is “Having the opportunity to see the joy and connection that others experience when they are with animals. Connecting with other people can be difficult, for a variety of reasons. Connecting with animals is less complicated and is very pure in nature, which can have emotional benefits.” We couldn’t agree more!
Olive went from a homeless puppy to a proud certified therapy dog. We are so inspired! Please join us in giving Olive and Kelly a round of appaws for all the amazing things they do to help others. Thank you!!
Feeling inspired? You can make more happily-ever-afters like this by donating to the Nova Scotia SPCA. Click here.