Dr. Robert Pepper Jones of the Main Street Veterinary Clinic, along with his Irish wolfhounds Fergus and Ronan, will take part in a fundraising walk for the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program early on the morning of Sunday, Nov. 15. Photo by Dick Loek.
By BROOKLYN PATTERSON
Dr. Robert Pepper Jones from the Main Street Veterinary Clinic will be participating in a dog-walking fundraiser on Sunday, Nov. 15, in support of the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program.
Jones had originally planned to invite area residents to join in on the morning walk to also raise awareness about therapy dogs. However, due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the city and the need to take extra precautions to keep everyone safe he will be doing the walk with just his two Irish wolfhounds.
However, if you see him and his dogs Fergus and Ronan between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Sunday along the beach (somewhere between Kew Gardens Park and the R. C. Harris Water Filtration Plant) do give him a wave, from a safe social distance.
“While originally intended to be a group walk, due to the rapidly increasing number of COVID cases in Toronto, we will be doing the walk alone,” Jones said. “If you are braving the weather forecast Sunday, please wave hello.”
He said the walk will be along the sand for most of its route. “Taking advantage of the snow fences making almost the entire beach an off-leash dog park, we’ll walk the entire length of the beach.”
Jones said his walk will begin at 6:03 a.m. at Kew Gardens.
The start time of 6:03 a.m. might seem oddly specific, but there is a reason for it.
“The point of starting the walk at 6 O’clock, or 6:03 in the morning is because it’s almost exactly an hour before sunrise,” Jones said. “I’m pretty spoiled, I live about 200 meters from the Boardwalk, so I get to see the sunrise almost every day.”
In addition to Jones’ work at the Main Street and Gerrard Street East vet clinic, he and Fergus are a therapy dog team in the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program and have been doing so for the past three years.
Fergus’ young nephew Ronan is also getting involved in the program as Fergus is approaching retirement age for a therapy dog.
Therapy dogs and their owners visit hospitals and other healthcare facilities to bring comfort to patients and residents.
Since COVID-19 safety regulations have caused the program to be halted as outside visitors must be strictly limited, members of the program, both human and canine, have been left idle.
“A lot of the dogs were going multiple times to multiple hospitals and they’re bored,” Jones said. “There are a lot of therapy dogs who are just sitting around twiddling their thumbs.”
Fundraising opportunities have also been limited, he said.
Jones added that since Sunday, Nov. 15, is National Philanthropy Day, he thought it would be a good opportunity to raise funds and awareness for the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program.
Those who are interested in learning more about the program, or which to make a donation, can get more information by visiting https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/the-toronto-beaches-dog-walk-in-support-of-the-st-/?fbclid=IwAR0YXkfmOFn5t_WFAm8OvphzB1PvyPeDXACyZvYWWnhMl7lDbsllGovlBk8
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