The St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program facilitators are calling out for dog owners and their pets to join their program in Brandon, as well as in the Westman Region's rural communities.

Community Services Coordinator for the Therapy Dog Program, Lisa Urbanski says they're holding a Brandon-area recruitment campaign to grow the program in the Westman area and will be hosting an orientation meeting this week Wednesday for all who are interested in joining their team.

"The orientation will give more information on how to become a therapy dog team or how to become involved in the program," explains Urbanski.  "I'll be doing a presentation and then I'll be going over the evaluations. So, if anyone has any questions about it, they can ask me at that time."

When asked what qualities or character traits they are looking for between a dog and their owner (handler), Urbanski says 'partnership' is the key word.

"We're looking for a handler and their dog that have a good working relationship, and where the dogs are social and friendly, but not overbearing - and they cannot show any aggression. Sometimes people think that a therapy dog is really, really chill, but we know that a dog is a dog.  However, if they're super anxious and skittish, that would be something that we're concerned about," she adds. 

Different breeds of dogs come with different personality traits, but it really comes down to the relationship between the dog and its owner, where the dog looks to its owner for direction, and where the owner recognizes the comfort or discomfort in their pet in any given situation.

The St. John Ambulance (SJA) Therapy Dog program allows volunteers and their dogs to visit hospitals, seniors' residences, nursing homes, schools and other institutions on a regular basis. Through petting, affection, and consistent visitation, many people benefit both physically and emotionally from the unconditional love of a dog and the calming affect it brings.

Pre-Evaluation Orientation:

The next upcoming Orientation takes place:  Wednesday, Jan 24, 2024, at 6:30 p.m. Brandon Shoppers Mall upstairs at St John's Ambulance office.

Before an application is submitted, SJA requires those interested to attend an Orientation. The Orientation will further describe the program (including the evaluation) and will give applicants time to ask any questions. This is a mandatory in-person session before you and your dog can be evaluated and will last about 60 minutes.

If you decide the program is right for you: An application will be submitted though the SJA on-line portal at

Once applicants have successfully completed the evaluation, they will be placed in a facility and community of their preference.

SJA says they will do their best to accommodate requests; however, placement is based on availability and facility approval. After being matched with a facility, participants will begin the supervised visit process as an official Therapy Dog Team.

Please listen to more with Lisa Urbanski below as she shares more information on the orientation evening and a SJA dog therapy team!

To sign up for the Brandon Region Pre-Evaluation Orientation, Jan 24, 2024, at 6:30 p.m. Shoppers Mall, Brandon, please click the link: HERE!

If you are interested in the St. John's Ambulance Therapy Dog Program, but you are not a dog owner, there are opportunities for you as well!  SJA is looking for people to run the Therapy Dog Program in the Brandon Region.  Here are more details on those volunteer positions:

Unit Facilitator for the Therapy Dog Program – BRANDON AREA

The Unit Facilitator is a leadership position that facilitates the smooth, efficient coordination of the Therapy Dog Program on a community level. The UF is responsible for overseeing the operations of the local Unit and providing support to the volunteers. The amount of time commitment will vary depending on the season and can fluctuate between 15-20 hours per month. Administrative tasks can vary to the Unit’s specific needs and most of the work can be completed from home with a computer connected to the internet.

Unit Assistant for the Therapy Dog Program – BRANDON AREA

The Unit Assistant (UA) is a support role that helps the Unit Facilitator (UF) to ensure the smooth, efficient operations of the Therapy Dog Program (TDP) on a community level. The UA is responsible for providing support with administrative and coordinating tasks that are assigned by the UF.

For more information on the program and to register contact:

Jodee Webster, Program Coordinator for the Westman Region


Phone Office:  204-727-4466 / Cell:  204-573-3548