'They provide that unconditional love': Therapy dogs easing anxiety at vaccine clinics for kids

The scene inside some of the region's COVID-19 vaccination clinics are looking a little less typical these days, thanks to the four-legged help of several therapy dogs stopping for a visit.

"At the spot where the children are lining up, we have a chance to visit with the child and their parents and kind of get acquainted. And then after they've had their needle, then in the recovery area we're also visiting there," said Andy Goulden, Coordinator for the St. John Ambulance KW Therapy dogs.

Nine therapy dogs are making the rounds, with day one deemed a big success.

"Fabulous! It’s been great for everybody to see smiles on faces," said Goulden. "And little bit of a lowering of the temperature of the room so to speak."

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association of Waterloo Wellington (CMHAWW), the dogs can make a noticeable difference for kids in an unfamiliar setting.

"They provide us with that unconditional love right. It’s also warm and welcoming and inviting. It’s also going to reduce the anxiety on parents, it's going to reduce the anxiety and stress on kids," said Meredith Gardiner, the Director of Services for the CMHAWW.

There will be up to four dogs a day at the boardwalk clinic alone, hoping that as the vaccine campaign keeps ramping up a "paws-itive" experience can also bring a shot of comfort.

At the Pinebush clinic in Cambridge, animal themed drawings and video games are set up in an effort to make the experience more appealing to kids.