Listening Tails (LT) is a program designed to help young children improve their reading skills and confidence in reading out loud by reading to therapy dogs. The children read for 15-20 minutes once a week for six weeks in a relaxed environment. At all times, the dogs are on leash and supervised by their handler. In terms of reading material, children have the option of either bringing their own book(s) or they can borrow a book(s) from the Chestermere Public Library/School for the duration of their reading session. Parents (or guardians) are not in the same room as their children during the reading sessions but they are able, if they so desire, to observe their children through the meeting room window. To help create a relaxed environment, both the dogs and children are given cushions to sit on, with the handlers seated on a chair, leash length away from their dogs.
The success of the program stems from the fact that dogs love the attention they receive by children reading to them and are non-judgemental listeners.
As a guide line only, the program is aimed generally at children in grades one through three but no child will be denied the opportunity to participate in the program.
LT is provided free to participants but donations are gratefully received to help defray the costs of running the program.
Visiting Tails (VT) is set up with one objective in mind: to enhance a senior’s quality of life by having them interact with our therapy dogs. Many studies and programs across North America and in Europe have found that seniors experience an improvement in their physical and mental health by having experienced visiting with dogs. Dogs feed off the positive energy that a friendly welcome brings and, in return, exude positive feelings back to the seniors.
The dogs (and their handlers) normally spend for 40-50 minutes on each visit, depending on the number of seniors present. The dogs and their handlers meet with seniors either in a group setting or visit room to room, depending on the preference of the seniors. At all times the dogs are leashed and accompanied by their handler.
At the time of writing (September 2016), VT is currently operating at the Prince of Peace, located just west of Chestermere in both The Manor and The Harbour facilities, Sagewood Seniors Residence in Strathmore, Wheatland Lodge in Strathmore, Chartwell Eau Claire and Chartwell Mission Care Residences in Calgary and Trinity Lodge in Calgary. The plan is to extend the VT program to other organizations wherever practical in the future.
Caring Tails is a program that recognizes people need help coping with stress/anxiety caused either through a traumatic event that has happened to them or a short term challenge that life has thrown at them. The type of therapeutic help provided by our dogs is tailor made to fit each situation but has the common theme that dogs provide a level of comfort that only they can. Some examples of how our dogs can help would be: visiting high school students before and during exam times, being alongside students who suffer from high anxiety on a day-to-day basis, being there for families who are trying to pull their lives together after a traumatic event such as their house burning down. Caring Tails operates in the city of Chestermere and surrounding areas.