Local therapy dog evaluator has love for animals

Blaketown native awaits induction to Order of St. John

Melissa Jenkins melissa.jenkins@tc.tc
Published on January 24, 2016

It’s not uncommon for Ken Reid to have a house full of animals, many of which aren’t his.

The Blaketown native has fostered loads of cats and dogs over the past decade and made a career out of helping them. His current job title is dog trainer and behaviourist, but he spends most of his free time working with animals.

Known as Newfoundland’s dog whisperer, Reid operates an obedience and communication business for dogs and their owners out of St. John’s. He’s been very successful in his endeavor.

“Ever since I adopted Morgan, animal rescue has always held a special place in my heart,” he said. “Over the years, my immediate pack has grown with Tanner, Rigger and our kitty coming into our home.”

Rigger, a pitbull, died late last year, but the remaining members of his pack are still a part of his home. All were rescues.

Besides working with animals as a day job, Reid, who has a master’s degree in social work, spends a lot of his free time volunteering with the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program.

The program provides animals for visitation at long-term care homes, hospitals and other medical facilities. Reid has a much more prominent role after almost a decade volunteering with his animals. Now, his position is called provincial evaluator. He is responsible for evaluating animals for their potential use as therapy dogs.

The order

For those that know Reid, it is not a surprise to see he is so great with animals. All his dedication over the years to fostering, adopting rescues and volunteering with the therapy dog program has given him plenty of experience helping animals and owners.

In fact, Reid will be inducted into the Order of St. John, a prestigious recognition for his work with St. John Ambulance. The order has approximately 5,000 members across Canada, but only a select few are asked to join from Newfoundland and Labrador each year.

“It is a huge honour,” he explained.

He will attend an induction ceremony this summer where he will officially become a member of the Order of St. John.

Therapy dogs are trained through a variety of not-for-profit organizations and for-profit businesses. St. John Ambulance, a not-for-profit, will certify about half-a-dozen therapy dogs this year. Those that are certified can volunteer with the organization.

“It’s fun,” Reid explained. “The benefits from the program itself are invaluable.”

Dedication to animals

Reid meets dozens of new dogs and owners each year in his profession, but he develops a bond with each of them.

His social media pages are covered in pictures of happy and energetic pets and proud owners. Many of the animals he helps are rescues, including those from Furever Young, Heavenly Creatures and the SPCA, amongst others.

Although it’s a lot of work, it’s something that Reid would never give up. With so much love and dedication to his work, it’s not surprising he uses his own pets to help others.

His animals, including other volunteer dogs in the organization, have visited locations like St. Luke’s Seniors’ Home and the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism to visit those who may need a boost.

The well-mannered animals are often calming and soothing to those dealing with certain illnesses or stressors, explains the St. John Ambulance website.

It’s obvious Reid’s animals offer that type of environment to these places judging from the happy faces in the photos and testimonials both on social media and on his website.

For Reid, 2015 was challenging, with many ups and downs. But with news of his induction and many other things on the horizon, he’s hoping that in 2016, he will continue the success that has brought him this far.