"Reading is thinking with someone else's head instead of one's own."
~ Arthur Schopenhauer

What the Dogs Need to Know
These are very special dogs that eagerly paws for love  

Child reading to Portuguese water dog

Catie and her friend share good times,
favorite books, great smiles .

Helping to improve litleracy skils and instill a love of reading in children is an extremely important and rewarding activity. The Reading Education Assistance Dogs® program is an excellent place to find help, encouragement, and new friends eager to share their knowledge. After passing the Canine Good Citizen test and being registered as an official therapy dog, the dog and its handler can apply for membership as an official R.E.A.D.® team.

Reading to dogs is fun.

Tina is reviewing the new 2011 Member Hanbook
for her therapy dog organization.

Specially trained service dogs and therapy dogs can play a big role in enhancing the lives of senior citizens. There are many reasons seniors benefit from having a pet, including relief of stress and anxiety, helping them feel less lonely, ensuring they get a little more exercise, making them feel more secure when home alone, and keeping them involved in public life through visits to the vet, groomer, pet store, or walks in the park. The National Council for Aging Care has a very good website about the pros and cons of pet ownership for seniors. Click here for their page called AgingInPlace.

Some pet therapy organizations have additional requirements, including testing the dog’s reaction to medical equipment, its self-control and ability to ignore food and other items upon command, its confidence around patients with infirmities and special medical equipment, and its behavior around children. Membership in these organizations provides volunteer insurance coverage in the event of accidental injury or damage while the dog is visiting in a therapy capacity. You can find more information on these special requirements on the individual organization's website.

It's obvious by the smiles (all 5) that Gunnar is welcome in this group.

It is important to realize registered therapy dogs are not the same as trained service dogs, sometimes referred to as assistance dogs. Because of the specialized duties service dogs perform, they are protected by various legislation for the disabled; for example, under the Americans For Disabilities Act of 1990 (rev. 2010), service dogs are allowed in all public buildings, whereas therapy dogs are not. Click here for more information specifically about service dogs.

Click here to look for a therapy dog organization near you. There are many in most states.


valentine's day, golden retriever

The dogs (and sometimes other animals) you see working in places such as hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and libraries demonstrate calm, gentle behavior toward people and basic good manners in their homes and communities. In order to work as a therapy dog, they are given a thorough health examination every year. Additionally, they must prove their behavior skills and earn their official therapy dog certification by completing the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Program and passing a therapy dog evaluation with their handler. Therapy dog evaluations are offered through many organizations such as Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Pet Partners, or Love on a Leash.

The basic Canine Good Citizen Program is normally an 8-week class. Since this involves both the handler and the dog, weekly classes for the certificate each week include a brief lesson in responsible dog ownership as well as training for the dog.

Jasper is an official
Canine Good Citizen.

The CGC test can be taken whether or not the dog and handler have participated in a formal class; however, before taking the test, owners will sign the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge. Responsible dog ownership is a key part of the CGC concept, and by signing the pledge, owners agree to take care of their dog's health needs, safety, exercise, training, and quality of life. Owners also agree to show responsibility by doing things such as cleaning up after their dogs in public places and never letting dogs infringe on the rights of others.

Maggie enjoys the book this boy chose today.

After signing the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge, owners and their dogs can take the test. The following 10 items will be evaluated:

Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger
Test 2: Sitting politely for petting
Test 3: Appearance and grooming
Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
Test 5: Walking through a crowd
Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place
Test 7: Coming when called
Test 8: Reaction to another dog
Test 9: Reaction to distraction
Test 10: Supervised separation

For a detailed description of the above tests, click here.