Companionship Through Pets - Tips from Hospital Health and Wellness Calendar


March Staff Feature

No matter how tough of a day Alyssa Iwanonkiw (RN, 1A) has, her dog, Tucker, is always able to cheer her up. His excitement for walks and spending time outside gives her the motivation to stay active even in the winter. Alyssa adds that, “there is nothing better than post-walk cuddles!”

Vanessa Masters, Prevention and Screening Services - March 25, 2019

Whoever said “good friends are hard to find” must have never owned a pet! Pets provide amazing companionship and help promote a healthy lifestyle and contribute to well-being in a number of ways:

  • Pets get you moving! If you have a dog, be prepared to get outdoors with them daily – rain, snow or shine. They need their exercise which is a perfect excuse for you to get a walk in with them.

  • Pets can provide unconditional love, as long as they don’t have too much cat-a-tude. Although, even cat-a-tude can be entertaining! Cuddling your pet can help reduce stress which is why we are starting to see volunteer therapy dogs in our Hospital or in other areas and events around the city.

  • Pets provide the best comedic relief. Watch some puppy and kitten videos on YouTube for a good laugh. Even better, throw a toy for your own bet and get a good chuckle in as you watch them fetch and wrestle around with it.

  • Pets instill a sense of being needed. They depend on you for all their emotional and physical needs, and vice versa!

  • Pets attract a social network. You are likely to make some non-furry friends if you get into a routine with your pet. You can meet like-minded people at the dog park or even meet your neighbours while taking your dog for a walk in or around your neighbourhood.

  • Pets can especially great for those living alone. They provide a constant source of healthy social stimulation. Having constant movement and someone to cuddle makes your home seem less lonely. Pets can also provide a sense of security and comfort if you get easily frightened or scared alone.

If you have a dog and are looking for somewhere that they can run free, Thunder Bay has several off-leash dog parks and trails. Try out Centennial Park off Arundel Street! Not quite ready for a pet yet, or don’t have the time or the space for one? Consider fostering or volunteering for a local rescue organization, such as the Thunder Bay Humane Society. This way you still get the benefits of having a pet around but only have to contribute as much time and energy that you are ready for.

Homemade Dog Treats

Who doesn’t like a good treat now and then? Our pets are no different so why not try making these homemade dog treats submitted by Erin Gunnell, RN, Emergency Department): Makes approx. 30


1 cup oatmeal

½ cup fat (butter, oil, etc.)

1 and ½ cups water

1 beef bouillon cube

¾ cup powdered milk

¾ cup cornmeal

1 egg whisked

3 cups whole wheat flour


  1. Set the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine oatmeal, fat, water, bullion and let the mixture sit for appropriately 5 minutes.

  3. Add the powdered milk, cornmeal, egg, whole wheat flour to the mixture and knead with your hands for another 5 minutes to form dough.

  4. Place the dough on a lined baking sheet and with rolling pin, roll the dough to about 2 cm thick.

  5. Use a cookie cutter (a dog bone one is my favourite!) to cut out approximately 30 treats in the rolled out dough, and discard any leftover pieces.

  6. Bake treats in the oven until hardened, about 10 minutes, and let cool. Serve to your furry friends and have them enjoy!

*All content from this article can be found in our Hospital’s 2019 Health and Wellness Calendar. To date, the Calendar has featured over 300 staff members from all areas and disciplines of the Hospital, capturing the many ways they choose to stay healthy.

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