Divine Canines therapy encourages smiles and promotes physical and emotional wellness. To accomplish this, we:
- Recruit and train teams of dogs and their owners.
- Schedule regular, frequent visits to people in need.
Divine Canines provides free therapy dog services to various populations in Central Texas, including:
- Children struggling with literacy or dyslexia
- Children with a history of abuse or neglect
- Children and adults with severe cognitive, developmental, or physical disabilities
- Children and adults living with mental illness
- Older adults living with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other aging issues
- Hospitalized patients in acute care and rehabilitation facilities
- Teenagers and adults with eating disorders
- Wounded soldiers returning from war
We now have approximately 80 active dog-handler teams who visit more than 50 facilities and hundreds of children, adults and elderly persons on a regular basis. Our clients face various challenges, and therapeutic interaction with our specially trained dogs can result in emotional and physical benefits, including improved mood, confidence, communication, relaxation and trust.
Our volunteers travel more than 10,000 miles and make more than 14,000 individual contacts per year.
Barking Book Buddies
Reading out loud is the single best way to improve reading skills. We make it fun. When children read out loud to our dogs, reading becomes exciting instead of stressful. Children improve their reading skills, gain confidence, and learn to love reading.
- Mental Health Advocacy
We promote social skills and friendship at the Austin State Hospital and Austin State Supported Living Center. Spending an hour with our teams has a profound impact. Residents experience positive social interactions and mutual respect.
Our teams promote emotional wellness in diverse settings. We encourage empathy and trust among children with a history of abuse or neglect. Our dogs motivate children with special needs, youth with eating disorders, and stressed college students. We offer emotional support and comfort to hospice patients and their families.
- Older Adults
Our teams provide companionship and recreation to residents of assisted living facilities and memory care units. Residents are often lonely, isolated, and miss living with a dog. Our dogs brighten their day and allow them to experience having a bond with a dog once more. Dementia patients may become more animated and engaged when our dogs visit.
- Acute Care and Rehabilitation
We visit patients recovering from serious injuries at acute care and rehabilitation hospitals. Our visits are often “prescribed” by doctors and physical therapists who witness the healing effects of our dogs. We visit patient’s bedsides and families in waiting rooms. Interacting with our dogs also reduces stress, pain level, and inspires gentle exercise among rehabilitation patients.
- Wounded Warriors and Veterans
Divine Canine partners with Ft. Hood’s Occupational Therapy Department to serve combat veterans who are experiencing symptoms of PTSD or traumatic brain injury. The soldiers we visit often find it easier to be around dogs than people. Interacting with our dogs promotes coping skills and social interaction. Our therapy dogs serve as a bridge between the soldiers and people. We also now serve veterans at the outpatient clinic of the Austin VA Center.