An RCMP dog handler is hoping to cheer up some sick kids in hospitals across the province by visiting them during the holidays and giving them each a stuffed toy police dog.
Cpl. Sean Cleary is also planning to show youngsters, who are well enough to interact with a dog, a working police dog at hospitals that allow animals inside. As well, in some places he will show youngsters a puppy that was in the police dog training program.
"My goal, if we're completely successful, is for the hour that we're there we give the kids some smiles and give them the opportunity to forget they're in hospital," Cleary told CBC's Morning Edition host Sheila Coles on Friday.
Visits are set to begin on Monday.
Cleary is currently based in Prince Albert.
The project was inspired after he realized how fortunate he is that he has two healthy girls in his family, one aged 2, the other just 10 weeks old.
He thought about all the other kids who were born with health issues and decided to do something beyond a donation to a foundation.
He was able to get 120 RCMP toys — stuffed service dogs — at cost, through the RCMP heritage centre with support from the Canadian Police K-9 Association. That number is just enough to deliver a plush toy to every child in hospital in Saskatchewan.
K-9 handlers from across the province have also been lined up to help out with the visits.
"What I get out of it is the opportunity to put some smiles on kids faces," Cleary said. "I think it's going to remind them of home. And that's what we're trying to do."