Will you and your dog fit in?

Members: Any person aged 18 or older may be tested with a dog and apply for membership. Anyone aged 12 through 17 may be tested with a dog to become a junior member.

Dogs: Any breed or mixed breed of dog, aged one year or older, may be tested with a handler to become a certified therapy dog. For insurance reasons, ATD cannot certify wolves or wolf-hybrids or coyotes or coyote-hybrids because the rabies vaccination has not been proven to be effective with these animals.

Handler/Dog teams only: ATD certifies only handler/dog teams. A prospective member or current member testing with a new dog must own or have had a close relationship with the dog for a minimum of six months before testing. ATD does not certify, register, or train dogs to be guide dogs, hearing dogs, or any other type of service dogs.

Membership in Kindly Canines is extremely rewarding!  Since it is 100% volunteer, you only participate in visits that you and your dog enjoy.  Membership doesn’t interfere with your busy schedule.  Click here to let us know you are interested in learning more.

Why We Love Our Kindly Canines Volunteering

“The Radiation Center waiting room had about 8 patients and family members during our session and Gabby was randomly moving from one person to another when for some reason she decided to return to a certain lady who had a bandanna on her head due to hair loss. When the lady leaned forward and began to pet Gabby, she started to cry. It was then that I heard her friend say,” she knew you had a bad headache today and needed extra attention “. Somehow our Therapists know who needs them…

Through Women In Need, Kindly Canine’s therapy dogs uplift those who had been living in abusive situations. They brighten the days of countless individuals who reside in nursing care facilities: Laurel Lakes Rehab & Wellness Center, Paramount Senior Living Center, Shippensburg Health Center and South Mountain Restoration Center. Through hospice, our special dogs bring comfort to those in their final stage of life: SpiriTrust and Residence Healthcare and Hospice in Mechanicsburg.

When greeting my therapy dog, Foxie, a resident in a dementia unit asked her “Have you come to visit me today?” It was the first sentence the resident had spoken in many months. Our dogs have a special gift to connect with those who have otherwise not been able to be reached.

A hospice client was moved to a different facility and she asked her daughter about my therapy dog who had visited her weekly, “How will Foxie find me?” Her daughter got in touch and asked if we would continue to visit her mother in the new facility. When her mother passed away, the daughter mentioned Foxie’s visits in her mother’s eulogy. We never know the impact our dogs make in the lives of others.

While visiting an extended care facility I visited a patient wearing a Marine Corps hat. The staff told me that I should position the dog on the other side of the bed because he doesn’t move his right hand. Before I could move, the patient reached out and rested his right hand on the “Lucy’s” head! Moments like this tell me that we’re doing exactly what we should.

Therapy Dogs vs. Service Dogs?

Service Dogs

A service dog is trained to help people with disabilities such as visual impairments, mental illnesses, seizure disorders, diabetes, etc. The option to use a service dog is given under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and local governments. According to the ADA, service animals are working animals, not pets. They have been specifically trained to perform tasks related to the disabled person’s specific disabilities. For example, if you are diabetic you may have a dog who can detect when your blood sugar level is too low or high. Service dogs must be on a leash, harnessed or tethered unless it interferes with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability. Please do not pet service animals while they are working.

Therapy Dogs

A therapy dog is trained to provide comfort and affection to people in hospice, disaster areas, retirement homes, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and more. Therapy dogs are used in facilities to comfort people and give affection. Spending time with a therapy dog has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce anxiety and increase endorphins and oxytocin. Therapy dogs do not have to be trained to perform specific tasks like service dogs.

Are you asking yourself, “Can my dog be a therapy dog?” It’s important to first state that not all dogs are good candidates to be therapy dogs. Therapy dogs should be naturally calm as well as affectionate and friendly to strangers. They need to be obedient in addition to having regular wellness check-ups and also be well-groomed for each visit.

Since you’re here you might enjoy this video https://youtu.be/lfDsCD6Mp5k

Comments from Those we visit

As the Unit Director for two Chambersburg Boys & Girls Clubs. I have appreciated how Roxanne Davenport has organized and arranged behind the scenes to make visits between the dogs and our members a reality. She was gracious about adding a second BGC site this year as well. Roxanne and I have collaborated to bring the dogs into our summer camp program as well.

 Our members sign up and prepare ahead of the dogs’ monthly visit. More than once, I have gotten the question- “Do the dogs understand what I am reading? Can dogs read? If they can’t read or understand what I am saying, then why do we kids read to them?” I reply, “Do you like reading to the dogs?  (“Yes!”)Do you like lovin’ on the dogs and petting them?  (“Yes!”) Do you have a dog at home? Or a pet?  (sometimes the answer is “No, I’m not allowed”). I further explain that reading to the dogs gives them a chance to read just for fun!   I love that our kids, especially our non -readers and English language learners enjoy the experience of “practice” reading.  Isn’t that what we want for children- to offer another opportunity to see that reading can be pleasurable?

 I look forward to our ongoing relationship with Kindly Canines. I hope they can continue to bring on more handlers and add sites so others, young and old and everywhere in between, can enjoy the experience of reading to our furry friends.


Jeanne Clark