Board of Directors

The TPOC board members work hard to enhance the quality of life throughout all of Canada.

The Dogs

Judy Sauvé, Vice/Past Chair and Founder

Founder of TPOC, Judy has participated in therapy dog visitation for almost twenty-five years.  Judy is a strong advocate of the benefits of pet visitation.  She enjoys any opportunity to introduce TPOC to communities and new members.  As a Team Leader and Evaluator,  she finds it extremely gratifying to evaluate prospective therapy dogs with their handlers and get them started in this wonderful activity.  Judy resides in Hawkesbury with her husband, Mike, of 49 years.  She shares her home with a very affectionate DLH cat, Missy, a TPOC therapy cat – aka The Boss.  Judy enjoyed visiting with five of her dogs.  Her Sheltie, Maggie, is the founding dog of TPOC’s visitation program.  Over the years she has visited with Goldens, Shelties and a Papillon.  Judy works at a funeral home and is a certified prosthesis fitter for breast cancer survivors.  She enjoys motorcycle touring and spending time with her children and grandchildren.

Diane McTaggart

Dian McTaggart, Director at Large

Dian has been a member of TPOC since 2003.  She established the Ottawa team and continues to manage the team today.  Dian has two Retrievers – Cody, a Golden Retriever and Benjamin, a Black Labrador Retriever.  Cody recently passed the evaluation and will begin visits shortly.  Dian is a strong believer in the benefits of pet therapy visits and has introduced visits at Algonquin College, and Carleton/Ottawa Universities.  These programs have been very successful.  She looks forward to bringing her skill set to the role of Vice/Past Chair.

In addition to working full-time, Dian is a certified TTouch practitioner, a graduate of the Karen Pryor Academy and is a Clicker Training Partner.  Dian participates in agility, Rally Obedience and has begun classes in scenting.

Juli and Lacy

Juli Balinsky, Chair

Juli has been a TPOC member of the Barrie Team since 2011 when she found herself looking for more  enrichment in her life.  Juli has steadily increased her responsibility within Therapeutic Paws of Canada.  From the role of Newsletter Editor, to Evaluator, Secretary and now as Director of Evaluators, Juli is an asset to the organization.  She brings over 25 years of administrative, sales and marketing experience as well as strong organizational and interpersonal skills to her various roles along with her passion for rescue and responsible pet ownership.  She attended York University working towards a Bachelor of Administrative Studies.  She shares her home with her husband of 25 years, Alan, her daughter Ashley and her two dogs,  Great Pyrenees Lacy who is child certified and her Leonberger Harry who is also a therapy dog with TPOC.



Michele Peddle, Director of Team Leaders

Michele is retired from the new home construction industry after 21 years experience in the GTA.  She started out as a Customer Service Manager for over 1,000 homes and completed her career as a Finish Superintendent.  She is married with 3 children and 4 grandchildren.

Michele has been involved with TPOC since 2010.  She has visited in hospitals, nursing homes and currently at Ontario Shores Center for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby.  As the Co-Team Leader for Durham Region, Team Leader for Bowmanville and District Team Leader for Ontario, Michele has assisted in the Evaluation process and training of 35 new Teams in her area.

Jasmine, Michele’s 6 year old Pooh-Pom has been Michele’s visiting partner since joining TPOC.  Jasmine is a Certified Therapy Dog, and now a Child Certified Therapy dog.  She started visiting at the age of 2.  Jasmine has 5 levels of obedience training and 1 level in trick training.  Jasmine is known as the “boss” locally, as she has helped Michele mentor all 35 new Teams.

Marg McEwen’s loving companion Duke

Marg McEwen, Director of Marketing

Marg has had a lifetime of experience with both 2 and 4-legged animals! A graduate of McGill University with a B.Sc. in Agriculture and of Queen’s University with a B.Ed., she has always valued the human-animal bond. For over 35 years she has owned/trained her own Labrador Retrievers. Out of this respect for the breed, Casey’s Cause (offering advice and assistance to guardians and rescue organizations) was created in memory of an exceptional rescued Lab, who was a TPOC member and left his paw prints on the hearts of those they visited.


Lise Laurin, Director of Membership

Lise is a retired employee of Bell Canada.  Her career spanned over 30 ½ years with the last 20 years of as an Executive Assistant for Assistant Vice-Presidents and General Managers.

Lise resides in Quebec, near Hawkesbury, and shares her home with her husband Richard to whom she has been married over 45 years, their wonderful little dog, Max, who just turned 6 years old,  2 lovely cats, Rominet and Moustache who are now 14 & 10 respectively.  She also has a dove who is one happy bird or else thinks life is one big joke as she laughs all the time and a lovely little canary who sings his little heart out day in and day out.  What a beautiful sound!

Lise also helps her husband’s French speaking customers who need help with translation or interpretation with the office in the States.

Lise has always had animals and is an avid animal lover.  She joined TPOC in Nov 2011 and really enjoys volunteering with this organization!



Irene Valmas, Director of Communications & Public Relations

Irene graduated from York University with a BA (Honors) in Kinesiology and Health Sciences.   Irene is Founder of Core Kinetics Fitness, Wellness and Exercise Rehabilitation in Toronto.  She is a Fitness/Lifestyle Consultant, Pilates and Yoga Instructor, Personal Trainer as well as a Nutrition Consultant.  Irene has developed health and fitness programs with Sick Kids Hospital and has participated as guest speaker as part of the alternative health unit for the Toronto District School Board.  She has experience composing educational packages and handouts, as well as, business and program proposals.  Irene will share her experience in management of social media with TPOC.


Robin Lawrence, Treasurer

Robin is a recently qualified Chartered Professional Accountant and a graduate from the University of Waterloo with a Masters in Accounting.

Previously a youth white water canoe instructor, Robin now works at Hendry Warren LLP as a Senior Accountant, where she works with various for profit and not for profit organizations in the Ottawa area providing taxation and assurance services.

Robin has always had animals and has been a passionate fundraiser for the Ottawa Humane Society since childhood.  Robin shares her home with her long-term partner, Kyle, and energetic Labradoodle puppy, Enzo.  This little family spends their time crafting, canoeing, biking and always learning new tricks.

Chris and Willow

Chris Eby, Director at Large

Chris is blessed to be the father of two amazing daughters, Charity and Rebekah, and the papa to two wonderful grandsons, Cole and Callan.  Willow is an energetic and fun-loving English Springer Spaniel with whom Chris shares all of life’s adventures.  These five are the center of Chris’ world!

Born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Chris resides in Muskoka, Ontario and enjoys all the natural beauty of Canada while canoeing, hiking and snowshoeing.  The close proximity to The Big Smoke also provides urban adventures such as the Edge Walk, Blue Jays games and parachuting.

Chris invests a big chunk of his life energy in supporting victims of crime and tragedy as the Executive Director of Muskoka Victim Services.  Willow is the agency’s therapy dog and works alongside Chris every day in the office and on scene supporting people to manage their trauma experiences.  Chris has worked in social services, primarily Child Welfare and Children’s Mental Health, for over two decades all across the province of Ontario.  Chris has 25 years of board governance experience across many sectors: recreation; social services; faith; and education.

Chris and Willow volunteer with the Bracebridge Team of Therapeutic Paws of Canada.

Nicole and Lucky

Nicole Selby, Director of Children's Programs

Born and raised on a horse/hobby farm in the Niagara area of Ontario, Nicole grew up with many types of animals including dogs, cats, horses, ducks, rabbits, a donkey and more.  Spending her life living and training a variety of animals has given her a unique experience in learning many different training methods, adapting to different characters and learning styles.

Having worked many different jobs including being a gymnastics trainer/coach, short order cook, coffee shop server, gas bar attendant, waitress, bartender, steel factory technician, security guard, and more, in 1998 Nicole pursued the fast paced, high stress, detailed career of Paramedic in Haldimand County.  Nicole has been active in educational development and delivery for her fellow paramedics as well as teaching at the Ontario College of Health and Technology in their Paramedicine program.  Nicole has both developed and delivered courses on a variety of topics including many medical subjects as well as legalities and liabilities for health and government workers.

Nicole is married her high-school sweetheart and they have two girls to complete their family.  They live in Haldimand County, Southern Ontario with two dogs, a cat, and two guinea pigs.  They split their time between home and a camp up north.  Nicole enjoys keeping busy and spending lots of time out hiking, biking, swimming, and more with her dogs in her free time  Volunteering has been a passion of Nicole’s since early school years in many different capacities.  Nicole is experienced working with physically and mentally challenged adults and children as well as varied roles within the community; this continues to be an important part of her life.

Nicole’s first dog was a lab/shepherd cross named Bailey.  After much research she trained him in Search & Rescue but never put it to use on a large scale.  When looking for their next project, Nicole came across Therapy Dog work and has been involved ever since 2001.  Nicole spent many years working as a Therapy Dog team until retiring Bailey.  Her next dog would be a Doberman puppy named Moxy, trained from 8 weeks old for Therapy Dog work.  Moxy filled her legacy in 2012 becoming certified with TPOC and Child Certified shortly thereafter.  Nicole adopted a second dog, Lucky who was rescued from an abusive situation.  The knowledge and lessons learned from training and rehabilitation have been invaluable.

In 2013 Nicole suffered a life altering brain injury from a fluke accident.  One and a half years later she was able to return to work and regain her life much the way it was before.  Although it was a hard road, the lessons learned during rehab will stick with and benefit her for life.  Nicole will be the first to tell you there is room to grown and learn from every experience.

This life journey to date has given Nicole quite a varied base of experience in dealing with many different life situations as well as different learning styles, personalities, and solution strategies.  Nicole knows that the key to any great organization, team, or program lies in a leader utilizing the strengths of those around them to both improve the outcome of a common goal while inspiring those around them to give their best effort by recognizing the talent, dedication, and hard work of team members.

Since restarting the Haldimand County team of TPOC in 2012, Nicole has been instrumental in growing and expanding the team and programs they are involved in.  This progressive team is quickly becoming a well know community asset with ever increasing demands for their services.  The team has now partnered with countywide library branches, schools, day away programs, community living centers, emergency services, and the Children’s Aid Society.  Nicole is proud to be a part of an organization that continues to provide new and exciting programs servicing its communities within Canada.