Healthy Living in the North

Pets as personal therapy

Pets are therapy

Nancy’s dog, Teva. Do you have a pet that helps with your mental wellness?

Socks, toilet paper and underwear – that’s what you would find on the floor of my house if you came over to visit me. But before you got in the door, you’d probably be greeted by a 90-pound German Shepherd named Teva.

Teva has been my friend for three years; I have not been able to break her habit of bringing me socks or eating the toilet paper rolls, but I have had a constant companion and outdoor buddy.

If you were to search Google, you’d find a lot of information discussing the benefits of pets and pet therapy – so much so that during my academic years, one of my papers discussed the pros and cons of pets in a health care setting. I laughed so hard when my paper came back with an A, and took it as definitive proof of the healing power of pets. I discovered the true benefits, though, when I got Teva, many years later. She was a mail order dog – and maybe just a wee bit of an impulse purchase. She arrived in Masset by air, and then home to Queen Charlotte City on her first long car ride, where I also experienced yet another first – dog car sickness, a nasty smell in my really clean, brand new-to-me car.

My original plan was to train Teva for a therapy dog but I have since decided she would be my therapy dog and it wouldn’t really matter if she brought me socks and chewed the toilet paper rolls.

So now I have a constant companion, someone to walk with every day, and who gives me huge dog hugs and licks and is always glad to see me…a perfect de-stress solution for my own mental well-being.

Your turn to share: tell me about a pet that helps your mental wellness.

Nancy Smith

About Nancy Smith

Nancy is a registered social worker who works with the youth in Prince Rupert. New to the north, she is happy to play outdoors and explore the trails and lakes in the good company of her German Shepherd, Teva. Nancy also enjoys gardening, music, and hunting for treasures at garage sales. (Nancy no longer works with Northern Health, we wish her all the best.)



  1. Michael says

    Thanks for sharing your story Nancy. Teva looks adorable.

  2. I miss Teva…that’s a great picture of her! Pets also help keep you present and mindful of looking after someone other than yourself. The unconditional love dogs give you is another plus for mental well-being. I love my dogs too and that creates good energy in me…they also encourage me to get out for walks which boosts my energy level and my mood at the same time!

  3. I wholeheartedly agree Nancy. I’m writing a children’s book series that highlights the therapeutic value of our animal friends. One path for my research includes my curating a page on entitled “Animal Companions” I have many, many articles regaling the great spirit and value of our pets. In fact, this is how I came across your article, which will now be added to my Animal Companions page. Thanks Nancy!

  4. I have a ferret named Flower, he is a certified therapy pet. He is the most mellow laid back little guy who has worked been cuddled by kids from the adolescent psych unit and many seniors. He is also on a commercial for the pet cemetery. Many Saturdays you can find him and his friend Nancy Boo at the Farmer’s market. Flower has introduced many people to the charm, playfulness and personality of these little animals. I find it hard to imagine life without him.