Icon, a large dog, stands on a GO train, with customer service advisor Jonathan Webb behind him.

Commuters take pause to enjoy therapeutic paws

Therapeutic Paws of Canada events sees dogs converge on downtown Toronto using GO Transit.

Mar 7, 2019

Think of them as a day at a spa – but covered by lots of fur.

One look into his beautiful eyes and you can’t help but immediately feel a sense of calm and safety. And petting his soft coat makes it impossible to feel stressed.

Therapeutic Paws of Canada — which provides visiting therapeutics pets to hospitals, long-term care centres, schools and courthouses — travelled by GO bus and train stopping by Union Station on March 5. The gathering, involving more than 30 dogs, was part of an event at the CBC’s downtown broadcast centre.

Commuters gravitated quickly to the friendly pups to grab a quick cuddle and selfie.

Customers stand around and pat a group of dogs, as they gather at Union Station.

“I’m late for work but I just can’t resist,” said Mike, who is a Bay Street law clerk. “We really need these dogs for the office. It would keep us all so much calmer.”

Another woman was brought close to tears as she relished in a warm embrace.

“I am unable to express the depth of my gratitude and the joy and comfort the dog brought to me this morning so unexpectedly,” Mary Louise said.

Therapeutic Paws of Canada (TPOC) is a non-profit organization of volunteers providing animal resources for human needs (physical, mental, educational, motivational and socialization).

Jennifer Minelli smiles at the camera as she poses up next to her black and white, larger dog Aub...

Jennifer Minelli and her dog Aubree pose for a selfie on the GO Train (photo by Jennifer Minelli)

Pet therapy is a ‘work of heart’ TPOC says. The dogs foster support, companionship and the unique bond that only pets can bring. The pet therapy teams visit hundreds of adults and children in communities across Canada.

Metrolinx staffer, Kristen Reveler, who works with TPOC, helped make arrangements to have the dogs travel on GO during peak times for the event.

As well as experiencing the calming impact of a therapy dog in her own life, Reveler said the stories she regularly hears energize her to continue to help spread the word.

“Members visit with their pet dogs and cats, bringing joy to seniors, helping children gain confidence and providing comfort when visiting the palliative care units in the hospitals,” she explained.

While GO customers are used to a relaxing ride, on this day as they shared travel space with the therapy animals, it was like a bubble bath on rails.