Community Therapy Dogs Society (CTDS) was born out of a vision to help people add value to their lives through association with therapy dogs. Incorporated with the government of Alberta effective December 30 2013, the first program (“Listening Tails”) began on March 18th 2014, with eight young children reading up a storm to our therapy dogs Susie and Taffy. The second program (“Visiting Tails”) began soon afterwards on March 26th 2014 with Atlas winning the hearts of seniors resident in the Prince of Peace Manor. The third program (“Caring Tails“) began on January 14th 2015 with Bella visiting the Chestermere High School. Since the early days in 2014, we have added a number of dogs to the programs, ranging in size from a Schitzu to a Giant Schnauzer and everything in the middle.
From the get go, the Chestermere Public Library gave unequivocal support to the idea of a therapy dog reading program, believing that “Listening Tails” would add great value to the range of programs being offered at the library. Feedback from parents, whose children have signed up for the program, reinforces this belief. Experience has shown that the children can’t wait for their next reading session with the dogs and their confidence in reading has increased through the process, as well as leading to greater involvement in class discussions.
In November 2014, East Lake School (Chestermere) opened their doors to our “Listening Tails” program. This was the first public school in Chestermere to recognize the value of therapeutic dogs when working with children. The next school to roll out the “Listening Tails” program was Prairie Waters Elementary (Chestermere) who introduced the program to their students in May 2015. This was followed in June 2015 by Westmount Elementary (Strathmore), Rainbow Creek Elementary (Chestermere) in November 2015, Chestermere Lake Middle School in December 2015, Brentwood School (Strathmore) in December 2015, Cranston School (Calgary) in January 2016, Sarah Thompson (Langdon) in May 2016 and Bearspaw School in September 2016.
A positive response came from the Prince of Peace organization when they were approached early in 2014 to see if they would like our therapy dogs to start visiting both The Manor and The Harbour facilities. Understanding the therapeutic value that the presence of a dog can add to the seniors’ quality of life, the staff at Prince of Peace was delighted for the opportunity to have our dogs visit on a regular basis. The same sentiment was echoed by Sagewood Seniors Residence in Strathmore when our “Visiting Tails” program began there in March 2015 as well as at Wheatland Lodge in Strathmore beginning in May 2015, Chartwell Eau Claire Care Residence in Calgary beginning in May 2015, Chartwell Mission in October 2015 and Trinity Lodge in September 2016.
Community Therapy Dogs Society became a Registered Charity with Canada Revenue Agency (Charity #: 81093 3770 RR0001) effective February 19th 2015.
Being a volunteer-driven organisation, nothing could have happened without the dedication and commitment of the volunteers in Chestermere and surrounding areas who, from day one, have embraced the idea of help through therapy dogs. As an organization, CTDS understands that the dogs are the centre of attention but nothing happens without the loving care of their dog handlers who give selflessly of themselves each time they attach the CTDS bandana around their dog’s neck.