Pawsitive Partnerships in Education Settings

*Note: This session has passed. Please view the recording and resources below.

Dogs in post-secondary education settings are becoming more popular in recent years. Increasingly, dogs are partnering with humans to support teachers’, administrators’, and students’ well-being and sense of belonging, mitigate stress, and even facilitate learning outcomes in diverse settings. This 90-minute interactive webinar will assist you in becoming more aware of the potential benefits of the canine–human bond in education that prioritizes mutual benefit. More specifically, by participating in this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Recall the evolution of canine–human bond and our deepening awareness of canines as sentient beings.
  • List specific and diverse ways human–canine partnerships have benefitted post-secondary education.
  • Describe ethical and safety considerations when partnering with canines in post-secondary education settings.
  • Identify how you can support canine–human partnerships that promote mutual benefit.

Most importantly, this webinar will harness the growing passion we have for dogs in education settings in a fun and honouring way that respects this interspecies relationship. We encourage you to BYOD (bring your own/other dog), upload a picture of your dog as your Zoom background during this webinar, invite your dog to join on camera with you if possible and safe when prompted (about 40–45 minutes into webinar), share a bit about your experience with the canine–human bond in the chat box when prompted, and become more receptive to dogs teaching you.

Your Facilitators 

Kirsten Hargreaves (BA, MA, RCC, EFW, CAIS) 

Kirsten has worked in the human services field for 22 years, including in therapeutic horseback riding, teaching Montessori kindergarten, working with children with extra needs, and in working foster care, autism intervention, camp directorships, municipal community development and social planning, and mental health and counselling. Kirsten is the owner of Standing Tall Child and Family Counselling and Pawsitive Animal Assisted Counselling, Consulting and Training. Kirsten is a contracted trauma therapist with the Ministry of Child and Family Development in play therapy, nature-based therapy, and equine/canine therapy. Kirsten is also adjunct faculty in the University of the Fraser Valley Child Youth and Family Studies department. A strong passion for animals, nature, and children come together in Kirsten’s practice. Kirsten’s consulting work focuses on canine-assisted trauma-informed practice, canine-assisted critical incident and stress management response, and canine-assisted counselling. Kirsten is a certified equine-facilitated wellness mental health provider and a canine-assisted integration specialist.

Marika Sandrelli (BSW, MEd, MMTCP, CAIS)

For over 40 years Marika worked in outreach, counselling, education, and community development with people experiencing social exclusion from poverty, homelessness, mental health, and substance use issues in several countries in Africa and Central America and locally in B.C. in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. For the past 16 years Marika has worked in the role of knowledge exchange leader for mental health and substance use services in Fraser Health, where she leads that region’s trauma- and resiliency-informed practice initiative. She also teaches at Simon Fraser University, where she graduated with a master’s degree in education in contemplative inquiry. Recently Marika joined Kirsten as a partner at Pawsitive Animal-Assisted Counselling, Consulting and Training. With a strong commitment to humane education practices, Marika is a certified mindfulness meditation teacher and canine-assisted integration specialist. With this and her culmination of experiences, Marika’s passion centres on resiliency-informed practices and animal-assisted, mindful self-compassion in all settings. She lives in Mission with her partner and three dogs, where all are dedicated to expanding animal-assisted supports for social inclusion, comfort, and healing.

Your Canine Partners 

Kona (eight-year-old female golden retriever)

Kona began her helping work at the age of two and has partnered with Kirsten for the past six years in a wide variety of settings. From her earliest days, Kona showed a strong preference for working with children and has thus focused her natural preference and talents in this area. Kona shines with children in the foster-care system who have experienced neglect and/or domestic violence. Her remarkable ability to provide a maternal-like nurturing has contributed to her healing work. Now in her senior years (golden years), Kona enjoys group games with children such as being the seeker for hide and seek and playing tag. She looks forward to sharing her bright eyes and wide smile with you all. When she is not working, Kona dreams of being in and on the water. This dog paddleboards, kayaks, and surfs!

Nalu (three-year-old male golden retriever)

Nalu began helping work one year ago at the age of a year and a half and partners with Kirsten both in the counselling room and a variety of community settings. Nalu shows a preference for community visitation work, including first-responder stress-reduction visits, youth safe house visitations, homeless shelter visits, and mediation/critical incident debriefing work. Nalu maintains an anchor-like calm amid stormy settings and big feelings. Nalu was instrumental through COVID-19 in his community visitation work. When he is not working, Nalu dreams of snacks, cuddling on the couch with humans, and visiting Marika’s house. Nalu turned three last September and celebrated with a birthday cheeseburger.

Maggie (nine-year-old female Aussie shephard/border collie) 

Maggie started her life filled with neglect and abuse before we became fortunate to adopt her when she was two years old.  She consistently teaches the power of trust, safety, and connection with anyone who connects with her. Maggie only recently communicated to us she loves to learn and wants to serve. She began her canine-assisted practice work in September 2021 and primarily works in outdoor education settings. She is known as a tireless fetch partner for Frisbees and balls or anything that moves, including herding leaves and pinecones. In fact our other dog, Cesar, a pug, gets frustrated when we ask Maggie to herd him back to our yard closer to our house.

Frank (14-year-old male border collie, retired )

Frank worked in outreach services, a bed-based substance use treatment centre, an adolescent psychiatric unit, and education settings for over 10 years and is now retired. He is generally a very intuitive and calm border collie who consistently sought out and connected with the client experiencing more acute social and psychological trauma. Frank is a trailblazer and one of the reasons the original pet visitation policy was first written in Fraser Health. He is enjoying his retirement accompanied by a large basket filled with various-size balls and Frisbees, from which he gets to choose for his daily playtime.

This event is free. To ensure we have an inclusive and welcoming environment for all, we’ve added registration to all our sessions.