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A Therapy Dog with a Disability Inspires Hope

By | Uncategorized

By Julianne Labreche

Whenever Sandy, a Shetland Sheepdog from Ottawa Therapy Dogs, walks cheerfully down the hallways of The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre (TOHRC) doing his rounds, patients and staff often pause for a visit. After some pats and cuddles with the spunky little therapy dog, they turn to Dona Bowers, his handler, with almost invariably the same question: “What happened to his leg?”

Dona has a ready reply, having answered the same question many times in the past. She is a familiar face during her weekly visits to TOHRC where she volunteers with Sandy. Together, the team spends time with patients who are working hard to regain their independence and achieve progress with their physical rehabilitation.

In the spring of 2014, about six months after she and Sandy were tested and passed Ottawa Therapy Dogs’ evaluation, her much-loved pet had a terrible accident. It could have been a lot worse, she recounts. Tragically, the little dog had a ‘run-in’ with a dump truck. Dona rushed him to the veterinarian who recommended amputating his rear leg.

Fortunately, after surgery and some at-home rehabilitation, Sandy made a fine recovery. Nowadays, at nine years of age, the Sheltie confidently continues to manage his day-to-day life as a tripawd dog with a disability. He walks amazingly well on three legs.

The disability could have marked a sad ending to Sandy’s still-to-be-launched therapy dog career. Instead, it turned into a hopeful new beginning. Soon after Sandy’s recovery, Dona heard about an opening for a therapy dog team at the rehabilitation centre. “I thought, what could be a more perfect spot than that? “ she says. “I asked OTD to go there.”

On the wards, Dona and Sandy visit with patients with varying physical disabilities, including those who have had limbs amputated and those who propel themselves with the use of manual or electric wheelchairs. There is lots of work ahead for these patients, booked for regular physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions. It is also a journey for these men and women to regain hope as they learn to adapt to life with a disability. Sandy helps many of them on that journey.

It is a significant commitment of time and energy for Dona, a busy woman herself. The family physician is edging towards retirement while continuing to work off and on delivering babies. In her volunteer job, each therapy dog visit with Sandy involves grooming and brushing the little dog, preparing him to look his best for visits.

Many patients eagerly look forward to these regular visits. Elaina Billings is one of those patients. “I just love animals,” she says, meeting Sandy for the first time just a day after her arrival on the ward. She is desperately missing her two cats – an eight-year-old male named Eddie and a three-year-old female, Echo. While she remains in hospital, both pets are cared for at home by her mother.

Her own journey has not been easy. She was born with spina bifida, a birth defect caused when the bones of the spine don’t form properly. She was admitted to the hospital in late October and her difficult acute patient stay included time in intensive care with serious respiratory problems. After nearly five and a half months, she is excited about coming to rehabilitation. Eventually, after some hard work, she looks forward to returning home for good. She knows that her cats are waiting.

“I was excited when I heard that Sandy and Dona were going to be here,” she says. “There are lots of studies that say that animals calm you down. I’ve had cats all my life.”

Her love of animals also extends to horses. When she was a little girl, she worked to improve her balance and confidence by practicing therapeutic riding. She laughs when she remembers how she started on a small pony and, after five years of practice, she was riding the tallest horse in the stable.

After his longer-than-usual visit on Elaina’s lap, Sandy hops down, off to visit with more patients. Before long, the little dog and his handler will head home. It’s clear that both of them enjoy these visits immensely.

Julianne Labreche has been a member of Ottawa Therapy Dogs since 2000. Currently an associate member, Julianne is a past Director on Ottawa Therapy Dogs’ Board of Directors and was a therapy dog team with her previous dog, Paugan, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. She is also the author of “The Woman Who Lost Her Words, A Story About Stroke, Speech and Some Healing Pets” based on her experience with animal-assisted therapy using Paugan in her work in speech therapy.


How Rufus, a Therapy Dog, Builds Trust and Empathy in Local Teens

By | In the community

In partnership with Ottawa Therapy Dogs, By Julianne Labreche

Every week, Ottawa Therapy Dogs’ handler Doreen Doré grooms her big gentle dog, Rufus, to get him ready to visit ‘the kids’ – local adolescents living with serious mental health issues.

Fortunately, thanks to a special program through the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), these teens have already received treatment with health care professionals to help guide them back to a better place in their lives. Nowadays, these troubled teens — diagnosed with depression, anxiety and other mental disorders — are receiving ongoing community support as they return to the classroom through a CHEO satellite program called Centre Ado du Millennium.

The students attend école secondaire publique Gisèle-Lalonde, a French high school in Orleans, and that’s where Doreen and Rufus visit regularly to help brighten their young lives. female volunteer visits a local highschool with a Saint Bernard therapy dog

Doreen and Rufus are a team with Ottawa Therapy Dogs (OTD). They have worked with the teachers and staff at the high school for over three years now, the first therapy dog team ever to visit the high school. “I have no doubt that Rufus makes a difference,” says Doreen. “The kids seem to bloom like flowers with him. You can really see the difference. Some come along slowly. Others respond to him so quickly.”

For instance, she recounts how Rufus recently helped one troubled student. The Ottawa Therapy Dogs’ team arrived at the school just when the student was having an emotional meltdown, so a teacher asked Doreen to take Rufus to see the young woman immediately.

First, Doreen asked her if she needed to talk, but the girl replied ‘no’, so instead, Doreen just encouraged the student to lie down with Rufus. “She laid down with him for about twenty minutes. Then she got up and gave me the biggest hug. It just melts my heart, the amazing work that he does to help them. He loves them all,” she says.

More often, the visits are less intense — usually friendly, relaxed one-on-one visits with Rufus lying on a big blanket on the floor in an empty classroom while Doreen welcomes and chats with the girls. There are lots of hugs, pats and cuddles with the big Saint Bernard.

“Doreen and Rufus are helping in many ways,” says Antoine Lepine, a child and youth counsellor at the school. The therapy dog team helps the students to build attachments, trust and empathy, including for themselves. “The students have a lot of negative self-talk. We use the dog as a tool in the sessions. Their defensive barrier just melts away.”

He adds that attendance also goes up whenever the popular duo arrives at the school. And it’s not just the dog — he gives Doreen credit too.

Doreen is a strong champion for mental health. She feels strongly that mental health issues should be taken out of the closet, not kept secret. She is open in speaking about her own mental health issues, now well controlled. “I’ve always had a black cloud, “she says. “I was born with clinical depression.”

She is positive in her approach and a good role model for the students. She likes to be upfront with them, telling them that mental health is a disease but that there is help available to them, and hope.

Saint Bernard therapy dog relaxes on the floorThis is her second therapy dog. Her first dog, Brutus, also a Saint Bernard, was a foster dog that became part of her family over eight years ago. For Doreen, the animal-human bond is powerful. “My depression is like I’m wearing a peaked cap. The darkness was always there,” she says. “A few weeks after getting Brutus, I realized that the darkness was gone. It’s that unconditional love. He made a difference.”

When Brutus died five years ago, Rufus entered her life. Over the years, her dogs have helped maintain her own good mental health, so it feels natural for her share her dog with others. She has volunteered with Ottawa Therapy Dogs for nearly nine years now while busy with her job and her family. She sums up her volunteerism this way: “We do what we can to make our corner of the world a better place.”

Julianne Labreche has been a member of Ottawa Therapy Dogs since 2000. Currently an associate member, Julianne is a past Director on Ottawa Therapy Dogs’ Board of Directors and was a therapy dog team with her previous dog, Paugan, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. She is also the author of “The Woman Who Lost Her Words, A Story About Stroke, Speech and Some Healing Pets” based on her experience with animal-assisted therapy using Paugan in her work in speech therapy.

Canine Influenza

By | Pet Health

Sick as a dog concept - Dog in bed with scarf and water bottle on its head.

We have recently had a few questions regarding the Canine Influenza Virus and would like to help clear up any confusion.  There have been pockets of outbreaks of the virus in the US and Asia over the past several years, but we’ve been mostly spared here in Canada, until recently.  In December 2017, there were 2 confirmed cases in the Windsor-Sussex area in dogs imported from Korea.  Several other dogs that had been in contact with those affected showed signs of a mild respiratory disease, but test results are still pending. 

The influenza virus is spread via the aerosol route (cough or sneeze), through direct contact with affected dogs (licking or nuzzling), through contaminated objects (dog dishes, toys, bedding, clothing) and by people who have been handling dogs with the Influenza virus.  The virus does not survive for a long time in the environment, but is highly contagious because as a newer virus, dogs have no natural immunity against it. 

Signs of the Canine Influenza Virus can include:

  • fever
  • lethargy
  • cough
  • discharge from the eyes and or nose (either clear or mucopurulent)
  • Dehydration
  • Increased respiratory rate or effort
  • Malaise

Dogs may go on to develop pneumonia, but in mild cases, symptoms may be minimal.  Most animals recover without incident.  There currently appears to be no risk of humans contracting the virus from their dogs, but this could change if the canine and human flu viruses mix together.  Cats have a slight risk of contracting it from dogs.

Dogs of any age, breed or vaccine status are susceptible to the virus, and those who visit areas where there is known influenza activity carry the greatest risk of contracting the disease.  For dogs traveling in the United States, you can check the level of influenza activity at your destination at  Also at greater risk are dogs traveling from Asia (including rescues), and dogs who are in contact with dogs traveling from the US or Asia (at dog shows, trials, etc). 

Fortunately there is a new vaccine against the Canine Influenza Virus.  While not every dog needs the vaccine, here are situations in which it may be worth considering:

  • Dogs traveling to areas in the US or Asia where there is flu activity
  • Dogs that may have contact with dogs from Asia
  • Dogs that may have contact with dogs traveling from the US (at dog shows, dogs from kennels, etc).

Consider the vaccination also in dogs with increased risk of serious complications if the Influenza virus were to be contracted (for example dogs with heart or lung disease, senior dogs, and flat-faced dogs such as bulldogs or pugs).  Like the human Influenza vaccine, it is designed to reduce the risk of disease but does not guarantee protection.  

We should have the vaccination in stock soon.  If you are interested in the vaccine, or in learning more about the disease, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  Also, check out this blog which has very up to date information: .

Now Offering Shockwave Therapy

By | Services

Cedarview Animal Hospital is excited to announce that we now offer shockwave therapy for our patients!

What is shockwave therapy?picture of a radial shockwave device

“Radial shockwave is a pressure wave system.  The applicator head contains a small metal bullet that gets rapidly forced against the applicator head, creating a pressure wave that transmits into the tissue that the applicator head is pressed against.  The end result is a stimulus that increases blood flow to the affected area which can help stimulate healing and pain relief, and causes the release of growth factors and the recruitment of stem cells.  Most animals feel good after treatment.  Occasionally, they are a little stiff immediately after application, but it is usually short-lived and resolves with movement.”

— Chattanooga Mobile RPW 

What are the indications for using shockwave therapy? 

Studies have shown radial shockwave to be effective in treating:

  • Subacute or chronic soft tissue injuries (muscle strains, ligament sprains, injuries to tendons, etc.)
  • Osteoarthritis and injuries to joints
  • Lumbosacral disc disease
  • Stress fractures
  • And more!

Does my pet need to be sedated to receive treatment with shockwave therapy?

No!  We can perform the treatment during a regular appointment.  The therapy does produce a unique sound and sensation, but we will help to acclimatize your pet to the therapy to reduce any fear or nervousness on their part.  Many of our patients barely notice when the treatment is being performed.

Interested in learning more? 

Give us a call at 613-825-5001 for more information on shockwave therapy or to schedule consultation with one of our veterinarians.  We can help to determine if shockwave therapy is appropriate for your pet.  Alternatively, if your pet has been referred to our hospital for shockwave therapy by your regular veterinarian, please contact one of our client service representatives for details.

Tick Season Is Here!

By | Parasite

Over the past few years, we have been seeing an increase in tick bites and more positive Lyme disease tests, so it is important to know the facts.Ticks tend to live in tall grasses and forested areas.

Deer TickThere are 3 types of ticks that are more common in Ottawa and surrounding areas, and several tick borne diseases. The tick we are most concerned about is the deer tick (ixodes scapularis). They become active at temperatures of 4 Celsius and above, which means that with the warm weather the ticks are out early this year! Due to every month having at least one warm day where ticks could bite we are now recommending year round protection from ticks! One bite is all it takes.

They are attracted to the warmth and motion of mammals, and as a dog  (or human) walks by, ticks will climb on or drop onto their host, attach their mouthparts into the skin and start feeding. Once they have fed for several hours, they grow in size and can be much more easily noticed. Be sure to run your hands over your dog after they come in from outside and check for ticks very carefully – they are very small and can easily be missed!

Deer ticks are the only tick in the area which carry lyme disease. These ticks need to feed for about 24-48 hours before they can transmit the disease. Signs of lyme disease are usually mild and include fever, lameness, stiffness, swollen joints, and enlarged lymph nodes, but can become severe and cause severe kidney disease among other concerns.

In the event of a tick bite we monitor for signs of lyme disease and run a screening test called a SNAP 4Dx, which checks for the immune system’s response to lyme disease. This test cannot tell us whether a dog will become afflicted with the disease, just that there is exposure to the bacteria.

You can help protect your dog from ticks, and the diseases they carry, by using preventative medication. There are many different types of preventative medications so be sure to ask your vet which is right for you and your pet.

Animal Health + Human Health + Planet Health = One Health

By | Pet Health

As we become more interconnected globally, it is apparent that veterinarians, doctors and scientists need to work together to ensure the healthy future if animals, humans and the planet.

The recipe for success is:

Animal Health + Human Health + Planet Health = One Health

None of the three components in the above “recipe” work alone – just as in baking, one must mix the right high quality ingredients and use proper tools to make the recipe work well.  When all of these efforts mix well together, we can enjoy one health!

How are these interconnected?

Historically, about 75% of human infectious diseases originated in animals (thing plague or tuberculosis), and outbreaks of diseases like West Nile virus and Zika virus remind us that new diseases keep emerging.  Familiar diseases in Canada include rabies and certain pet and wildlife parasites that can be transmitted between people and animals (zoonoses) with or without vectors (pests that carry and spread diseases).

Both animals (big and small) and people need a healthy environment within which to thrive.  Taking care of our pets to keep diseases and parasites in check allows us to provide a barrier to risks like feces contamination of watercourses and groundwater that can spread to the wider animal community and people.

Protection of our precious environment is an exceptionally important mission in itself, but it is also important to maintain the living area of wildlife so they can find enough food an are not crowded out by development, are not subjected to harmful pollutants, or even undergo extinction.

We are all part of the web of life and need to manage our pets, livestock, living areas and the food supply for sustainability.

The take home message is that by protecting your animal’s health you also help provide for the health of the humans and protect the environment as well.  We need to work together to protect the animals we live with and the animal communities who share our planet environment.  This is a global effort!

(8.09.2016) Dr. Kathleen Cavanagh, Online Editor, CVMA


By | News

At the end of this month, Dr. Erica Gallagher will be leaving Cedarview Animal Hospital. Dr. Gallagher is starting a new chapter in her life as she and Dr. Ann McKenna start their own practice in Stittsville. Dr. McKenna is a familiar face also at Cedarview, having filled in while Dr. Kim Holzman was on maternity leave.

Dr. Gallagher has been with Cedarview for 4 years, taking time away to raise her twin children with her husband, John.

We want to extend our best wishes for Dr. Gallagher and Dr. McKenna’s careers and thank them both for their contributions to the care of our clients and their pets.

Dr. Nigel Gumley

Help for Canada’s wild birds

By | In the community

Cedarview Animal Hospital recently upgraded our digital x-ray equipment to allow for improved speed and processing of capturing radiographs. This permits the patients to get in and out faster, and if sedated, to wake up faster. Our staff love the equipment: less time in the dark!

We are pleased to donate our five-year-old digital equipment that was replaced to a very worthy organization in Hudson, Quebec. Le Nichoir (French for the Nest) is Canada’s largest wild bird rehabilitation for songbirds and are celebrating their twentieth year in operation. Today, Le Nichoir admits more than 1400 wild birds and receives over 5000 telephone calls a year.

The radiographic equipment will permit the centre to provide care in their new facility, currently under construction, to add to their diagnostic tools in managing and treating the birds.

Check out Le Nichoir at

Grey Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq Team

By | In the community

In 2014 Dr. Gumley and Sarah became part of a team called “The Grey Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq Team”.

It is a team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians that volunteer to provide humane canine population control and community education in remote and semi-remote First Nation communities in Northern Ontario.

A large number of these communities are only accessible by plane which makes travel to receive veterinary care almost impossible.

The teams main goal while there is to perform vaccines, spays, castrations, deworming, animal identification, and to educate on humane animal care and bite prevention.

This year Dr. Gumley and Sarah will be joining the team in Whitefish Bay Reserve near Kenora in North-Western Ontario from February 13-20th.

Stay tuned for photos and stories from our travel to the North and to learn more about how these clinics make a significant impact on the community in which they are held.

Grey Bruce

It’s That Time of Year Again!

By | Parasite

Dog 3

It’s the time of the year we all look forward to: maple sap running, the hint of warm Spring air, and our canine companions enjoying the out of doors without the requisite coats and booties.  While seeing the grass again is rejuvenating, it is also the time of year to remind us of the critters waiting to greet our pets.

Ticks have become the emerging parasite of discussion at most veterinary hospitals in Eastern Ontario.  While fleas are always of concern, most of our pets have been safely managed for flea infestations so that seeing flea problems is not what it used to be.

Ticks, however, have adapted to the changes in climate and geography, bringing with them several tick-borne infections, namely Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis.

Ontario has three common varieties of ticks, the American Dog Tick, the Brown Dog Tick and the Deer (Ixodes) Tick, the latter of which carries Lyme disease.  It is this l tick that we now see more commonly, having moved up from the Northeast States and into Eastern Ontario and Quebec.

American Dog Tick

American Dog Tick

Brown Dog Tick

Brown Dog Tick

Deer Tick

Deer Tick

Ticks begin their seasonal feeding early, between 4 and 20C, as soon as snow cover is off the ground.  While they feed all year in cooler areas, we predictably see a Spring and a Fall flush of ticks, lasting until there is once again heavy snow cover.

Engorged Female Tick

Engorged Female Tick

Ticks can be picked up in nymph or adult stages.  The nymph Deer tick is the size of a pin-head, making it difficult to find on many dogs.  The engorged, fed adult tick, however, is the size of a small finger nail, more easily found unless the pet’s coat is long.

This year we have a new product available to dog owners for tick prevention, Bravecto.  Launched by Merck at the end of 2014, it appears safe and effective for all three ticks, and safe in all breeds.

Bravecto’s primary advantage over other products is that it also lasts for three months, so that a typical dog will only need three doses for the whole season.  Bravecto is licensed for dogs over 6 months of age due to the need for a stable body weight for correct dosing.  For dogs between 2 and 6 months of age, we also have available, Nexguard, a new monthly oral tablet.

For clients wishing the traditional topical tick control, K9 Advantix, it will still be available for use.

As a reminder, we recommend all dogs be tested annually in the Spring for the three tick-borne illnesses as well as Heartworm, if exposure is considered a risk.

Contact the staff at Cedarview Animal Hospital at 613-825-5001 for further information, to book testing, or to order your tick prevention for Fido.