Success and Impact Stories
At CAAWLS we measure our success by the impact that we are able to make in our community. Whether we hear from a student who was able to ace an exam because our dogs allowed her to de-stress before her exam, from a teacher who is seeing the difference our dogs have made in her students, or even from a volunteer who has has an especially rewarding experience, we are driven by those impact stories. Much of the evidence of the success of Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) programs is anecdotal, and the stories collected below truly show the impact, small and large, we are able to make with our animals.
JIM DEMPSEY SERVICE AWARD - cONST. ANDREW MELNEY
We would like to send a huge congratulations to one of our very valuable volunteers, Constable Andrew Melney. Along with his sidekick, chocolate lab Lucy, Andrew has volunteered at many of our programs in Edmonton. Recently he has been the sole volunteer at a program with the Big Brothers Big Sisters Clubs of Edmonton. He and Lucy visit the children at the club and focus on a reading program, though there are definitely many cuddles as well!
We are so impressed by Const. Melney's commitment to bettering our communities here in Edmonton, and we are so happy to congratulate him on recieving the Jim Dempsey Service Award.
Women's emergency accomodation centre
CAAWLS has provided invaluable programming to E4C’s WEAC. To see our participants' faces light up at the sight of a dog or cat in our common space is a truly rewarding sight. We are especially grateful to our volunteers who sacrifice their Friday nights to visit with clients and let them engage with their pets. CAAWLS volunteers are compassionate, patient, and understanding–the women at WEAC often benefit from interacting and connecting with our volunteers just as much as they benefit from engaging with their animals. Many of the women at WEAC have experienced the loss of a pet due to the circumstances that led to them to WEAC. Having the opportunity to spend time with a visiting pet often fills a hole they have felt since separating from their own pets. Knowing that there will be a new pet coming to visit every Friday gives them something to look forward to, and makes the difficulty of staying at WEAC a little easier to bear.
Shadow and I volunteered at Spruce Avenue School again today. It was so rewarding to hear the chorus of students excitedly saying "There's Shadow!!" up and down the hallways as we made our way to the library. Several students rushed to greet him as we walked the halls--students who are in our reading group rushed up to say hello and so did students who had never met him before. Shadow has made so many connections within Spruce Avenue, and the more responsive students are to him, the more responsive he is with them. It is so heartwarming to watch these positive interactions.
Today seemed to be one of our best reading sessions. There were two dogs there today, so the students split up into groups of two and the groups switched dogs halfway through. At the end of the reading session, I was preparing to leave when one of the boys from the first group came back into the library, headed straight for us, and came and shook my hand! He thanked me for bringing Shadow and said he really enjoyed reading with him. I thanked him for taking the time to let me know that and said I would look forward to seeing him again in the future. It was such a pleasure that this junior high student had specifically taken the time to come back to the library to thank me--and he was so serious and sincere in his thanks! This moment was a first for me, and one that I won't soon forget. It was one of my more pleasurable days!