If 2014 was the year of the horse in Chinese culture, for the citizens of Chestermere it was very much the year of the dog!
This time last year, CTDS was still just a name on an Alberta government file: hard to believe with all the activity and growth that’s taken place since.
As a quick recap of the significant activities in 2014, here goes:
On March 18th “Listening Tails” was launched at the library with Susie and Taffy being willing listeners. Shortly afterwards on March 26th, “Visiting Tails” came into being at Prince of Peace with Atlas winning the hearts of seniors in The Manor. Furthermore, later in the year, a significant door was opened for us when, on November 20th, East Lake School introduced “Listening Tails” to their students. This is the first of the schools in Chestermere to embrace our reading program and has generated significant interest from other schools. On other therapy dog matters, discussions began in October with Strathmore Regional Victim Services (SRVS) to explore the possibility of CTDS working alongside SRVS to help individuals or families who are suffering from some traumatic event. The response from SRVS has been very positive and we are looking to develop that relationship and establish protocol and training with them in 2015.
As the year progressed, recognition of the value of therapy dog work grew in the community resulting in more people stepping up to have their dogs in our programs. By the end of 2014 the number of dogs helping us had risen to 24, covering both programs.
CTDS could not have helped the people it has in 2014 without the commitment of our great volunteers. Whether a handler, a greeter, a co-ordinator or a Board member, all credit is to be given to the people who have stepped up and have said, in their own individual ways, I want to make our community a better place through my efforts. We must never forget that volunteers are the backbone of CTDS and, in 2015, we will continue to strengthen that belief with the introduction of a volunteer orientation package and a volunteer recognition program. We want to keep our great volunteers and make them feel, even more, that they are involved with a charity that cares about them.
On the financial front, we managed to cover our expenses through various donations from corporate entities, the Chestermere Lions Club and individuals, as well as grants and fundraising, particularly bottle drives. A big thank you to all donors. Application has been made to CRA for CTDS to become a registered charity. Although a long winded process, with much back and forth, I am confident that 2015 will see CTDS become a registered charity with all the fundraising opportunities that will bring.
During the year it became clear that rebranding CTDS would help further promote the organization and an extensive exercise of creating a new logo, website and brochure was undertaken. I would particularly like to recognize Kris Hans of Market Grade and his assistant Macy for the considerable time, effort and ideas that were poured into the project. The results are spectacular!
And, finally, in terms of recognizing contribution to CTDS, I would like to thank Dr. Gabby Rotaru of Chestermere Vet Clinic who, from day 1, has supported CTDS by providing free medical exams to all dogs looking to join our program. This type of support is immeasurable and ensures we get only healthy dogs on our program.
Looking forward to 2015, many opportunities continue to arise:
- Sagewood seniors’ home in Strathmore has contacted us wishing to have the Visiting Tails program rolled into their facility. I plan on visiting Sagewood in the near future to discuss possibilities.
- Rainbow Creek Elementary School would like Listening Tails to start in March.
- CTDS is presenting Listening Tails to Our Lady of Wisdom School on March 4th.
- As the success of Listening Tails grows, I would anticipate CTDS expanding into the Langdon and Strathmore areas.
- In January, two of our dogs spent time with students from Chestermere High School as our 3rd program (“Caring Tails”) was initiated. I anticipate more interaction with the High School in 2015.
- In February, CTDS started helping the Community Learning Centre as part of our “Caring Tails” program.
- I anticipate active participation with SRVS later in the year.
In closing, I’d like to thank everyone who has enabled CTDS to help people in 2014 and we should all look forward to an exciting 2015: the best is yet to come!
“Helping people one dog at a time”