About The Good Dog Foundation
The Good Dog Foundation (Good Dog) was founded as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in 1998. Good Dog’s mission is to ease human suffering and promote recovery from trauma and stress using animal-assisted therapy services that are recognized as among the most innovative and reliable in the United States. This is accomplished through the use of professionally-trained and supervised volunteer teams who work to aid the healing process in humans and enhance clients’ quality of life.
Good Dog provides therapy dog services to people in health care, social service, educational, and community facilities in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and at disaster sites around the country. Its highly-trained and fully-certified volunteer teams each consist of a human handler and therapy dog. Good Dog focuses on work in the four divisions of Education, Health Care and Wellness, Research, and Disaster Response. For more on the work of these divisions, click here.
Good Dog recognizes the importance of certifying therapy dog teams, rather than simply registering them. Good Dog teams are certified and there is an important difference between registration and certification, despite the terms sometimes being used interchangeably. Certification implies that the organization has participated in the handler’s and the animal’s training. Whereas registration requires a one-time screening, a registration organization does not certify that the team is trained to a certain level. Instead, the team is registered as having met minimum requirements. Good Dog is the only organization in New York City that offers true therapy team certifications. To learn more about The Good Dog Difference, click here.
Good Dog’s ultimate goal is to increase the awareness and prevalence of fully-certified therapy teams in a wide variety of facilities across the country. This is achieved through three core activities: training and certification, visit coordination, and research and awareness.
Training and Certification
At The Good Dog Foundation, we hold our human handlers and therapy dogs to the highest standards in the field in order to provide the best possible therapy services to people who need it most. Good Dog is unique in that it does not simply register therapy dogs after a one-time evaluation; teams must complete weeks of training to become certified Good Dog teams. The eleven weeks of training in Therapy I and II classes that teams undergo for certification allow the Good Dog trainers to evaluate teams in a variety of settings throughout the training.
Because of the substantial time that Good Dog spends training both handlers and dogs, Good Dog stands behind every volunteer team it certifies. This Good Dog Guarantee means that teams have complete Good Dog backing and support when visiting institutions; it also gives facilities full confidence that only highly-qualified and certified Good Dog teams will visit their facilities. Because Good Dog believes in its teams, it provides insurance to all certified teams while they are on official facility visits.
Dogs and their handlers must undergo annual assessments regarding their fitness for therapy dog service and must meet stringent criteria to re-certify as Good Dog teams. This allows Good Dog to ensure that only teams of the highest-quality continue to visit facilities as Good Dogs. Currently, Good Dog works fields nearly 1,100 therapy dog teams and works with numerous Good Dog trainers to meet the increasing demand to train therapy dog teams. To find out more about becoming a volunteer, click here.
Good Dog works with hundreds of facilities to place its volunteer teams in facilities that cater to teams’ strengths and abilities. Good Dog staff members coordinate therapy dog services with these partner sites, and trainers always accompany new therapy teams to their first visits.
Good Dog maintains ongoing contact with professionals at each facility to ensure the efficiency, effectiveness, and safety of Good Dog visits through facility agreements. Because of the impeccable reputation of Good Dog teams and Good Dog’s coordination with facilities, volunteer teams are able to gain access to many facilities that they could not access as independent teams. Currently, Good Dog visits students, patients, clients, and facility staff in nearly 320 facilities.
Research and Awareness
Good Dog advances research about the human-animal bond and promotes public awareness about therapy dog services through presentations, events, and media outlets. Good Dog partnered with Pfizer Animal Health, the Pfizer Foundation, and Continuum Cancer Centers of New York to conduct research on the clinical benefits of therapy dog service as an element in the treatment of cancer patients. This completed study was recently published, and can be found here.