Established in 2011, the mission of Nature Coast Therapy Dogs is to bring comfort, happiness, compassion, love and joy to members of our community. Some of the places we take our dogs, in addition to local nursing homes, are hospice, both at hospice house and in private homes, memory care units, schools, where we teach dog safety as well as have the children read to the dogs, thus improving their skills exponentially, Boys and Girls Clubs – pretty much anywhere we are asked to go, we go!! Additionally, we have a presence at our local children’s’ advocacy center, Jessie’s Place, on a daily basis. Our dogs offer not only companionship to the kids when they are at the center; they often participate in the actual therapy sessions themselves, offering a silent partner to lean on when talking about difficult, often traumatic events.
Dovetailing with our dogs being at Jessie’s Place, is Courtroom Dogs for Kids – our dogs not only go through the therapy sessions, they also are available to go to court with these children, should that become necessary.
We have just started working with the Florida Dept. of Juvenile Justice to bring some of our dog teams to young people who’ve found themselves on the wrong side of the law, and are now working hard to pull their lives together to become active, valued members of society. We’re very excited to be a part of this process for these kids, and hope this is just the beginning of a long partnership!
We now number nearly 30 teams, consisting of “snowbirds” that travel from the cold North to enjoy Florida’s winter sunshine and outside activities, as well as local teams who are here year round. Our dogs vary in size from 4lbs to 140lbs!! No one breed is particularly suited to therapy work – the most individual mutts out there are sometimes the best!
We hope you will take the time to explore our website, and maybe even join our group. We welcome those wanting to become new members of Nature Coast Therapy Dogs! Please feel free to call our office to request more information or having a program at your place of work, school or after -school group.