Nature Coast Therapy Dogs was started in 2011. We began as a very small group that has grown over the years. We now number nearly 30 teams, AND, I am so proud to announce, we have a second chapter of NCTD in Hernando County under the able leadership of DJ Gwilt. DJ is presently training and evaluating people from the Hernando area who are interested in becoming a valuable assest to their community along with their beloved dogs. WELCOME HERNANDO COUNTY!! Many teams are “snowbirds” that travel from the cold North to enjoy Florida’s winter sunshine and outside activities. Our dogs vary in size from 4lbs to 104lbs!! No one breed is particularly suited to therapy work – the most individual mutts out there are sometimes the best!
Our mission is not only to bring happiness to those who are in nursing homes or hospitals, but so much more. We are presently working with a local hospital in its Stroke Clinic to help recent stroke victims rehabilitate. We visit children in schools to help educate them about dog safety and responsibility of dog ownership; in additon, we offer reading programs to the children in school as well as boys and girls clubs. We visit daycare centers, have a presence at funeral homes, and offer classes for basic obedience. One of the more important programs we offer is Courtroom Dogs for Kids – our dogs help children who have been abused, abandoned or neglected and are presently in “the system”. The dogs not only go through the therapy sessions with the children, they also are available (after specialized training) 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 hope you will take the time to wander through our pages, and maybe even join our group. We welcome those wanting to become new members of NCTD! 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.