Nor'wester Therapy Dogs
Canine Partners in Education
Nor'wester Therapy Dogs is seeking $10,000 to expand our innovative canine partners in education program by purchasing items to create classroom "comfort corners" and to acquire needed funding to implement an advertising campaign to recruit more therapy dog teams. Our program, widely praised by teachers, administrators, parents, and students, needs your support to continue the gift of therapy dog magic which occurs in the classrooms we serve.
Kids call for more comfortable reading corners!
As canine partners in education, our trained and certified therapy dog teams work only in the school environment supporting teachers and students and making reading and learning fun. For us to build on the positive influence our therapy dogs provide in the classroom, we seek funding to create “comfort corners.” By providing soft and comfortable seating for students and dogs, it makes the learning environment more conducive to relaxation and reduction of stress. We already know that a relaxed student is a happy student whose learning curve then increases exponentially. By improving the learning environment we increase the effectiveness of using therapy dogs to motivate and encourage children. Over the nine years our program has been in existence we have observed, first-hand, the difference in classrooms where a therapy dog team can work with students in a quiet and comfortable niche as opposed to sitting or lying on hard and cold tile floors. Not only does it affect the student, it also impacts the dog. A comfortable dog offers a heightened sense of relaxation to the human factor in the learning equation.
Teachers LOVE having dogs in their classrooms, but stringent district budgets and lack of supportive state funding have made it difficult for teachers to purchase supplemental items, which are considered non-curricular, for their classrooms. With your donations, we would purchase whistle seats, bean bags, pillows, or mats for the “comfort corners.” We estimate a cost of $100 per classroom at discount/wholesale prices. Since we currently serve 58 classes and approximately 800 students weekly, our goal would be to purchase enough to outfit 50 classrooms.
Demand outweighs availability of therapy dog teams!
In addition, we desperately need to recruit more therapy dog teams to meet the demand. We have a long waiting list of teachers in the 5 districts and 4 private schools we currently serve. Newspaper articles, our website, and social media need to be supplemented by an advertising campaign. We need to institute an aggressive approach to advertising in hopes of increasing our base of teams to serve in classrooms.
Advertising costs vary from source to source. We know that we need to go for splashy and visible ads in newspapers and other community circulars along with networking more successfully. To accomplish this we hope to acquire enough funding to pay a graphic artist to assist us in this endeavor as well as to cover the costs of running the ads. We are estimating that it will require about $5000 to target this goal.
Data collection supports the success of our therapy dogs in the classroom.
Over the past two years we recruited a retired reading specialist with supervisory credentials to coordinate the collection of standardized data to validate the effectiveness of our therapy dogs in the classrooms we serve. The results of year one were driven by data obtained from the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) test , using the Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) sub-test. The group working weekly in tandem with a therapy dog team showed 100% improvement in ORF. The control group of students not working with a dog was matched closely in their starting reading ability; this group showed only a 25% improvement in ORF. This data and survey results indicate overwhelmingly positive proof that our dogs “flick a switch” and the our organization is meeting, and usually exceeding, our mission statement.
Powerful examples of our therapy dog magic
In one special education classroom we serve, a third grade boy struggles to control his spastic eye and hand movements so he could read fluently. The darting eyes and jerky body movements are a constant challenge to him; they stem from a rare genetic brain disorder, and it is a constant hurdle in his attempt to learn and achieve. A therapy dog visited his class weekly, and one day the handler re-positioned the black Lab named Hannah so that her body was in contact with him. He was encouraged to pat Hannah while he was reading, and suddenly the spastic motions eased. He began to read fluently, and the teacher, who happened to be observing, dropped her jaw in disbelief.
and . . . a second grade girl, who was in a remedial reading class, suddenly surged in her progress when Annie came to listen. She ultimately advanced 12 reading levels in one year by the side of her class therapy dog.
and . . .when three high school sophomores were killed in a tragic automobile accident, district administration called upon us to provide therapy dog teams to work in tandem with the grief counselors. Not only did the dogs support the students, they were also of comfort to parents, teachers, and the counselors. Our organization is always available for crisis intervention.
Meanwhile, as the school year draws to a close . . . five non-verbal 5th grade boys in a low-functioning autistic support class work with their therapy dog Wes. Dogs make it possible to connect with autistic students in ways not feasible with human contact alone. After a full year of working with Wes, four of the boys moved the handler, teacher, and a parent to tears when they waved and said, “Bye Wes!”
The stories of the MAGIC of our therapy dogs just go on and on! They support students with learning difficulties as well as those who have physical, social, and emotional challenges that complicate the educational process.
To keep this magic alive, we are calling for your support. Please make a contribution to our Go Fund Me campaign. Not only will our organization be very grateful, but so will the teachers and students who benefit from our services.
Thank you for your donation!
FMI: Videos about Nor’wester Therapy Dogs and live testimonials from teachers, parents, and children are located on our website .
We are grateful for your continued support. Thank you!