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.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Princeton high school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

Bench plaque recognizes former Summerland firefighter

Volunteers with fire department set up plaque in honour of Richard Estabrooks

Public shows support for alcohol in outdoor spaces: City of Penticton

City council will vote on whether to continue allowing public consumption, on Tuesday, July 7

Princeton RCMP arrest suspects in violent Salmon Arm home invasion

Two men who allegedly staged a violent home invasion in Salmon Arm… Continue reading

Interior Health will not expand Police and Crisis Team

Southeast Division Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli asked IH to expand the program

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Shuswap resident spots waterspout near Salmon Arm

The rare weather event was spotted early in the morning on July 4.

Police searching for missing Lake Country man

David Anthony Jenken, 65, was reported missing Friday and was last seen on June 28

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Seymour Arm landslide interrupts drinking water to 500 people

The July 3 slide damaged a water system and a logging road.

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Most Read