Ben Carey is the Program Coordinator for the University of Saskatchewan PAWS Your Stress Therapy Dog program. He is also a Research Assistant for Dr. Colleen Dell, a Centennial Enhancement Chair in One Health and Wellness, working with the PAWSitive Support Program for Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and who Problematically Use Substances (SUAP). Ben’s background is biology, and he has been fascinated by canine evolution for years, focusing much of his undergraduate learning on the evolution from wolves into dogs and how humans and dogs have coevolved to form an incredibly symbiotic relationship. He applies this passion about the human-animal bond into his current research work, focusing on how the lives of hospital patients, veterans, and others, are enhanced or changed by interacting with dogs. This work examines how dogs affect the people that need them, while also making sure the dogs are happy with their jobs.
Ben began working with Dr. Dell on the pilot study of the SUAP project. In this role, Ben trained Toby, his own service dog in training, alongside the veterans and their dogs. This was done so that he could truly experience what working with a service dog was like. Ben worked on a second therapy dogs research project at the Royal University Hospital Emergency Department to research what effect therapy dogs had on patient pain and wellness. Ben recently had the opportunity to present the One-Health office team’s work on “Transitioning a Therapy dog Program Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic” at the Virtual Solutions for Substance Use Care Conference and was awarded the Keynote of Tomorrow award along with the opportunity to present at the 10th Annual E-Mental Health Conference: Virtual Care in Times of Crisis and Beyond. This project focusses on the animal-human bond in a virtual context and how our team has successfully shifted therapy dog care from an in-person to an online environment.