As the largest certifying animal-assisted therapy organization on the East Coast of the United States, Good Dog currently operates in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey, and at disaster sites around the country. Good Dog focuses on work in the four divisions of Education, Health Care and Wellness, Research, and Disaster Response.
The Education Division allows Good Dog teams to visit students in school, children learning how to read in libraries, and after-school enrichment programs. There are also three Good Dog programs in this division that focus on reading, anti-bullying and autism.
Good Dogs patiently listen as young students learn how to read, struggling readers work on their reading skills or English-as-a-second-language students work on learning a new language. Improved reading levels and increased confidence have been consistently observed in students taking part in the reading program.
The anti-bullying program focuses on the therapy dog team entering the classroom and beginning a dialogue on kindness, responsibility and communication. The outcome of this program is that students will have increased empathy towards animals and towards each other.
Good Dog is working closely with facilities such as The Anderson Center for Autism in Staatsburg, NY and the New York Center for Autism Charter School in New York, NY to bring therapy dogs to visit students on the autism spectrum. Many of the students who have received visits have shown marked improvements in verbal skills and reductions in disruptive behaviors.
Health Care and Wellness Division
The Health Care and Wellness Division consists of eight unique programs. These programs specialize in cancer, heart disease, rehabilitation/stroke, AIDS/HIV, mental health, geriatric care, indigent populations and veterans.
The Health Care and Wellness Division encompasses the work of Good Dogs in all sections of area hospitals and is the largest of the four Good Dog divisions. Reduced anxiety, loneliness, stress and blood pressure are just a few of the healing benefits of Good Dogs observed in the Health Care and Wellness Division. Good Dogs help thousands of people cope with AIDS, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, strokes, cancer and depression in medical facilities.
The Research Division currently consists of two activities: a research study at Continuum Cancer Centers of New York- Beth Israel Medical Center NYC and a study at The Anderson Center for Autism (Anderson) in Staatsburg, NY.
The study at Beth Israel Medical Center NYC aims to assess the impact of certified therapy dogs on quality of life for cancer patients undergoing dual chemo- and radiation therapies. The study was completed in 2012, showing marked positive impacts in patients’ health and well-being from Good Dog visits. The results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal in 2013.
The study at Anderson aims to analyze the benefits of therapy dogs for children with autism and is funded by the Autism Society of America- Hudson Valley Chapter.
Disaster Response Division
The Disaster Response Division consists of two programs. One program focuses on national disasters and the other focuses on local disasters in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Good Dog can deploy teams to help the survivors of disasters as well as the professionals sent to assist in disaster recovery. Good Dog teams have worked with victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and Hurricanes Katrina, Irene and Sandy.