Episode 06 - Pawsitive Support


Darlene Chalmers and Colleen Dell work with therapy dogs through St. John's Ambulance and manage the therapy animal program Pawsitive Support based out of Drumheller, Alberta. On the side, they also use their animals to assist recovering military veterans. Through Pawsitive support, Darlene and Colleen work with convicted criminals and aim to encourage kinder and more empathetic behaviour in their clients by forging animal connections.

In this episode, Darlene and Colleen discuss establishing constructive relationships between clients and their animals, how interacting with these animals can affect criminal behaviour for the better, what dogs can offer that humans can't, and the role they may play in curbing addictive habits.


-Darlene and Colleen explain how their programs tailored to each animal and client.

-How the atmosphere immediately changes when a therapy dog is introduced to an inmate.

-The ideal two-way relationship between a client and their animal.

-Using dogs to establish safe and healthy physical contact with clients who have deep-seated issues with being touched.

-The tricky process of ending the relationship between a dog and their client without hurting the latter.

-A few examples of the endearing relationships that can form between inmates and their dogs.

-How therapy dogs can engender empathy in even the most hardened inmates.

-Breaking down the timeline of a standard therapy period.

-The importance of a dog's non-judgmental nature in the therapeutic process.

-How Colleen and Darlene believe therapy animal programs may affect recidivism rates in the future.

-Distinguishing between therapy and service dogs.

-Looking toward the future of Pawsitive Support with regards to opioid treatment.


"When you look at the dogs in these situations, they are about as happy as happy can be."

"We open the heart just a little bit and now the service provider can do what they need to do because that space has been created."

"There's a lot of learning about dog behaviour and dog psychology and I think that forces them to think outside themselves."

"What are you needing now that's gonna help you get where you want to be?"

"How can we recognize animals as part of our human well-being?"


Colleen Dell’s website - http://www.colleendell.ca/

Anna Belle the Dog’s Adventures - https://www.facebook.com/AnnaBelleSubiesAdventures/

Audeamus homepage - http://www.audeamus.ca/

Official Say Know homepage - http://www.sayknow.org/

Canadian Research Initiative of Substance Misuse (CRISM) Prairies website - https://crismprairies.ca/

SayKnow.org Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/sayknoworg

SayKnow.org Twitter feed - https://twitter.com/SayKnowOrg

Music provided by Redbull DJ Champ, Charly Hustle - http://www.charlyhustlemusic.com

Matt IngrouilleComment