Tri-community residents nervous to get the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to have a furry friend calm their anxieties at the La Ronge Hospital COVID-19 clinic this week.

Torino, a non-shedding therapy dog who usually works at Children North, will be available on Friday to accompany residents as they get their shot.

Daina Lapworth, Torino’s handler, said he can help distract people from their fear of needles in multiple ways.

“Torino is our cuddling therapy dog, so he would sit on a kid’s knee or just kind of console them if they’re crying or just give them somebody to play with,” she said.

Lapworth said Torino is trained to be a therapy dog and he has the perfect temperament to be one.

“He’s always been very relaxed and that kind of goes on to other people,” she said. “He also has a knack of knowing when people are upset. So, he’ll just go and jump up onto your lap and just sit there until you need him to go.”

Lapworth said having therapy dogs at clinics could help more people get vaccinated.

“Some people are really nervous with needles so he’s sat in with a few adults that have got their vaccines as well,” she said. “He’s pretty relaxed and his presence is very calming. It gives you something to focus on other than a needle.”

To have Torino help during your appointment, ask the hospital staff for him from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26.

Lapworth said this could happen again in the future on days when Torino’s not busy helping kids at Children North.

(PHOTO: Torino sitting with Chael Hopper-Durocher. Photo courtesy of Saskatchewan Health Authority.)