Wagging tails and wet noses are easing loneliness and lifting hearts right here in the D.C. metro area. When a PAL therapy dog walks into the room, eyes light up, smiles spread on faces, and a sense of relief and joy waves over the room.
PAL therapy dogs work hard to provide comfort to their companions. Bitsy and Bella, Fenton and Finbar, Stella and Star are just six of 400 PAL dogs whose work is accepting hugs and giving affection.
While all companion animals bring meaning to human life, owners tell us some dogs are born with special gifts that make them perfect for dog therapy work. We hear about dogs that have an innate ability to connect with people, a heart brimming with love for strangers, an ability to relate instantly to the elderly, children or people in sorrow.
We often hear: “My dog just knows what to do.”
In the Pet Visit Program, extraordinary dogs give love to all sorts of people in all sorts of places — the elderly in nursing homes, families grieving in hospice, children frightened in the hospital, and military veterans recovering from injury.
Pet therapy dogs help kids learn to read because they simply listen. Dogs do not try to correct your spelling or pronunciation, they simply smile and wait patiently for the next part of the story. They visit schools serving children with disabilities and mental illness and low-income communities, providing confidence to students who are lacking the ability to feel comfortable.
Visit the PAL Facebook page, where hundreds of volunteers share their pictures and warm stories.
PAL dogs need to be certified before going on visits. James, our enthusiastic volunteer coordinator, recruits, and certifies volunteer therapy dogs and guides you and your pup to the perfect site.
PAL’s Pet Visit volunteer program does not require specialized training. You and your dog simply need to have a standard respect for each other and other animals. Our wiggling therapists are friendly dogs with friendly owners. They are calm, and cheerful while their owners gently guide them through PAL’s human-friendly training and orientation process.
With PAL, volunteering with a dog is fun and easy.
Hosting PAL Visits or Events
If you are interested in having PAL Dogs and volunteers visit your facility, or would like to plan an event, please contact our headquarters at (202) 966-2171. Please give us at least 2 weeks notice prior to your event so we can ensure everything runs smoothly and we can get enough volunteers signed up!