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What Is a Therapy Dog?

Therapy Dogs are those that have been trained to a high standard to visit with individuals who may not otherwise have the opportunity to benefit from the therapeutic effects of interacting with a dog.  Therapy Dogs are typically handled by their owners and taken to locations such as nursing homes or hospitals to visit with patients.   School reading programs also employ Therapy Dogs to encourage children who are reluctant to read the chance to read to a dog that will not judge or criticize the child’s performance.   Therapy Dog handlers volunteer their time to enhance other people's lives.  Although the two terms are sometimes mistakenly interchanged, a Service Dog is one which has been trained specifically for a person with a disability to help mitigate symptoms of the owner's disability.  Therapy Dogs provide beneficial interactions for others.

How Do I Certify My Dog?

There are a number of organizations in the USA that offer membership to dog-handler teams which have passed an evaluation required for certification.  Each organization has a different method of certifying its member teams.  Members enjoy the benefit of group liability insurance during official Therapy Dog visits.  Some, but not all, nursing homes and hospitals require Therapy Dog teams to be members of an official organization.   If you want to schedule visits with local facilities, begin by asking what they consider acceptable verification of you and your dog’s training and behavior. 

Tammie is no longer a Therapy Dog Tester/Observer.  She relinquished the role to focus more heavily on Service Dog training and her writing career.

Images from the Reading P.A.C.K.




For several years we offered our Therapy Dog services to the public library in Vandalia, IL.   In 2014, the program was terminated due to lack of interest from the community.

We still offer Therapy Dog service when we can fit it into our schedule.



Cute photos of a Service Dog In Training puppy attending P.A.C.K.


Children's librarian, Linda, greets Max.


Switch says, "you're doing great".

Franklin meets a new friend.   Oliver kisses a new buddy.

Switch listens intently.   Boon gets some loving.
Max is interviewed....."Shall I read my next book to you?"   A child reads with enthusiasm to Franklin.

Switch says, "Listening to all this good reading is really tiring"


Oliver gets some affection after a hard day at the office.



The handlers after a fun evening at the Evans Library in Vandalia, IL




The Reading P.A.C.K. program encourages children to read to a dog that will not judge or criticize the child’s performance. PACK Therapy Dog handlers donate their time to help others in local schools and libraries.

The unconditional acceptance, lack of judgment and novelty that a dog offers a child can result in improved reading scores and enhance a child’s general attitude about reading.  It also provides Therapy Dog handlers the opportunity to volunteer in their community towards a heartwarming cause.  

  Max listens quietly  

Boon says, "You read SO good!"


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