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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. 

Our Therapy Dog Training Program:
  We have developed a process to help dog-handler teams prepare for Therapy Dog work, including mastering key skills which are necessary to pass a Therapy Dog evaluation and acquire the AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate.  The classes are open to anyone who had completed a One Day Workshop.  Class agendas include working on a variety of activities which develop confidence and enrich a dog-handler team. We work through Rally Obedience courses and practice competitive obedience exercises.  Teams learn to negotiate Agility Obstacles (trust and partnership) and work on the elements found in a CGC or Therapy Dog evaluation.  There is always an emphasis on high standard obedience exercises and working around distractions like those commonly found in nursing homes (wheelchairs, walkers etc...).  
1.  Attend a Workshop 2. Continue Training at home or in Class 3. Pass the Test 4. Begin Therapy Dog Work

Attend a One Day Workshop  If you have not already done so, we require teams to attend a Workshop for basic training, philosophy on handling and management of your dog.  If your dog has come through our Board/Train program, the requirement to attend a Workshop is waived.

Attend the ADVANCED CLASS training sessionsClasses are now being held every Tuesday of the month at 6:30 PM  (as of 9/2013 since P.A.C.K. has been moved to Thursdays this year).

 The advanced worked class, which includes Therapy Dog practice is a pay-as-you-go class $8.00/class. 

Work towards and acquire your AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate.  Tammie is an AKC CGC Evaluator and can perform the test when you are ready.  You decide when you are ready.  The Tests are scheduled a few times each year, and can be scheduled during the regular class on Wednesday evening.  The AKC CGC is not required to earn a Therapy Dog certificate with most organizations.

Pursue membership in a Therapy Dog organization to acquire the member benefits of group liability insurance during your volunteer visits.   Following our process is not a requirement to gain membership / certification with a therapy dog organization.  Individuals should review the requirements of the organization when pursuing certification.  

Volunteer to perform Therapy Dog work  Teams that have earned recognition through a Therapy Dog organization may participate in the Reading P.A.C.K. or other Therapy Dog visits arranged by Committed Canine.  You may also schedule your own visits at area nursing homes or hospitals.

  Contact us via email or telephone 618 427-3333  



Become a member of the Reading P.A.C.K.



  Through our sister organization, Committed Canine, Inc., we offer volunteer Therapy Dog teams the opportunity to participate in Therapy Dog events such as the Reading P.A.C.K.  





Evans Public Library, 215 S. 5th Street, Vandalia, IL 62471     

To sign up your child for the program, contact Contact Shauna, Children's Librarian, at (618) 283-2824


NEW HOURS FOR 2013 School Year

The 2nd and 4th THURSDAYS of each month 5:30 – 6:50 PM



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.  

  To work towards becoming a member of the PACK, sign up for the Therapy Dog class, or contact us if your dog is already a registered Therapy Dog.  
  Max listens quietly  

Boon says, "You read SO good!"




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