Andrea DeMeer The company of these small dogs allows Princeton’s Joan Jacura to live a more normal life.

Meet two of BC’s tiniest service pups

Medical therapy dogs changed Princeton woman’s life

Joan Jacura is used to having to explain her service animals.

“I’ve gotten some strange reactions here in Princeton. People think small dogs can’t be service dogs.”

Jacura, who recently moved to the area from Surrey, relies on two tiny canines to get through the day.

Zorra is a Pomeranian-Chihuahua cross and Taquito – a medical therapy dog in-training – is a Chihuahua mix.

Jacura suffers from diabetes, agoraphobia, anxiety and depression.

The dogs are trained to reassure her, and Zorra has the unique ability to detect changes in her blood sugar levels.

When her blood sugar spikes “the dog will lick her nose profusely,” said Jacura’s attendant Ray Wheeler.

In an interview with The Spotlight Jacura recounted how acquiring a medical-therapy dog changed her life.

“It was like night and day,” she said.

Previously unable to leave her home and interact with others, the dog allays her fears.

Describing agoraphobia – a condition where the sufferer unnaturally perceives various environments and situations as unsafe – she compared it to living constantly with one’s worst nightmare.

“Imagine the thing you are most afraid of, and being that way all the time. It’s like if you are afraid of spiders, it like having spiders crawling over you all the time.”

Zorra and Taquito “lessen the fear,” she said.

The use of medical therapy dogs was recommended by Jacura’s doctor. She carries a worn letter from the physician that she often has to produce when the animals accompany her into a public place like a restaurant.

“When we go into a restaurant we show it first thing and most people are really understanding.”

She said one local restaurant manager refused to let the dogs inside, after receiving complaints from other patrons.

Zorra and Taquito both wear service vests and remain close to their client, at all times, held above her waist.

Like other service dogs they should not be petted by strangers, she said.

Unlike some other service animals and because of their size, the dogs are not certified.

Zorra was trained in the role by a previous owner, and Taquito is learning the ropes. The latter is a rescue dog, named because he was taken into care outside of a taco shop in Washington State.

“He’s come a long way. He has a long way to go but he has really come a long way.”

Just Posted

Candidates ready for Summerland Blossom Pageant

Royalty pageant will be held at Centre Stage Theatre on May 3 and 4

Funds presented for Growing Woman’s Health Campaign

Summerland Shoppers Drug Mart presents cheque for event held last autumn

Penticton adventure park hosting Easter Fun Day and Egg Hunt

LocoLanding Adventure Park is hosting the ninth annual Easter Fun Day and Egg Hunt Monday.

Summerland reservoirs expected to fill, despite low snow levels

Snow measurements at two Summerland sites have been significantly lower than normal

VIDEO: Weekend weather for the Okanagan-Shuswap

A mix of rain, clouds and sun are expected for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Truck crashed and dumped near Predator Ridge

Police are looking for two men in connection with a stolen vehicle

Man seriously injured after driving wrong way down B.C. highway

Police say the driver hit a transport truck, then another car after merging from the off-ramp onto highway

Shuswap society finds pets often suffer in domestic abuse cases

SPCA, SAFE Society working together to provide shelter for pets of women fleeing abuse

Salt and Brick chef to compete in Canada’s Great Kitchen Party

Chef James Holmes will compete in the fall competition

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Give Canada geese at Okanagan beaches a break

LETTER: Tour busses, full of photographers, local goose guides and an annual goose festival

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Most Read