According to the 2013 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, 40% of public 4th grade students and 46% of 10th grade students read below grade level.
Canine Assisted Therapy’s Pack Reader Program helps children build reading skills under the attentive ear of a canine companion. Volunteer therapy teams serve within public and charter schools as well as established tutoring schools to support the efforts of students currently reading below grade level. The C.A.T. Pack Reader Program is especially useful for students who have low self-esteem, may be shy about reading aloud, or are learning English as a second language.
At Canine Assisted Therapy, we work closely with teachers who have students that need extra help with their reading skills. These children have an opportunity to meet with a Pack Reader Team once per week for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. The student will read aloud to the dog and the handler will help the child understand the material and recognize and pronounce difficult words. Meanwhile, the dog will help calm the student, giving the child the confidence they need to read and succeed.
Our Pack Reader Teams also conduct C.A.T. Read-A-Thons at elementary schools with teachers, volunteers, and reading coaches encouraging young readers to participate in the joy of reading by interacting with and reading to our wonderful therapy dogs in group settings. Several teams are deployed to a participating school for approximately two hours with the potential to reach and benefit more than 100 children.
Local libraries and bookstores also designate days and times for Pack Reader Program events. These events are posted on our website and Facebook page and are open to the public. Each child will have the opportunity to read one-on-one to the dog. The amount of time spent with the dog varies per library and bookstore, depending on the allotted time for the event and number of children registered.
*We recommend that you register for library and bookstore events due to increased demand. All of C.A.T.’s therapy teams that work with children and/or special needs individuals require advanced testing and will have an Advanced Certification. For more information on the Pack Reader Program, please complete the Contact Us Form and one of our staff or volunteers will contact you.
Canine Assisted Therapy, Inc., partnered with the 17th Judicial Circuit Court Administration to develop and implement the first therapy dog program in the Broward County, FL court system. When appearing in court, the experience can be uncomfortable, especially for children. Having a therapy dog present both inside and outside the courtroom provides much-needed comfort to children involved in the Dependency System. To participate in this program, C.A.T.-certified therapy teams are required to pass the Advanced Certification and complete the 30-hour Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Training, which certifies and appoints volunteers to protect the rights and advocate for the best interests of a child involved in a court proceeding.
In November 2011, C.A.T., was approached by Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton, FL to provide pet therapy to children participating in Camp Good Grief. Camp Good Grief helps children ages 5 to 15 who are experiencing the death of a loved one.
Through a combination of therapeutic and fun activities with a therapy dog, children are able to learn new ways to cope with grief and begin their healing. They are able to rely on the therapy dog as an outlet for comfort and support while having fun.
C.A.T. recently completed Camp Good Grief 2015 and is working with Hospice by the Sea’s parent company, TrustBridge Health, to provide more opportunities for interaction with various hospice populations in the future.
*This request by Hospice by the Sea prompted the development of our Dogs Healing Hearts program so that we may help all individuals who are dealing with the loss of a loved one or are dealing with a difficult time in their lives. To learn more about our Dogs Healing Hearts program and how therapy dogs help those who are grieving, read Dogs Healing Hearts.
In the fall of 2014, a group of volunteers worked with Canine Assisted Therapy staff to write and publish a book about approaching and interacting with dogs, from the dog’s (Georgia’s) perspective. Titled Georgia’s Tales/RESPECT, this book is used in one-on-one reading sessions with first and second grade students in South Florida.
"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive."
- Gilda Radner