Children at the Jumoke Charter School in Hartford, CT, were recently introduced to the concept of therapy dogs as part of the Youth Ambassador K9 Career Program (YAP™). The Introduction to Therapy Dogs presentation was conducted by professional dog trainer Alice M. Quinn, Ph.D., of Allan’s Angels, the Connecticut chapter of Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, a national organization for volunteer therapy dog teams.

YAP is part of the Jumoke School’s daily 45-minute enrichment program, which offers a choice of extracurricular subjects to students at the K-8 school. YAP seeks to raise awareness among young people about career and volunteer opportunities in the field of working dogs. Therapy dogs are used to comfort people in nursing homes, hospitals, hospice, schools, libraries, and even criminal justice situations.

“Therapy dogs can go to all sorts of places to calm and comfort people,” reported Quinn, who headed the behavior and training department at Bolton Veterinary Hospital in Bolton, CT, for 17 years.

Several weeks ago Quinn arranged for nine therapy dog handlers to come to the Jumoke Charter School and introduce their dogs to the students. The dog breeds included German Shepherd, golden retriever, cocker spaniel, long-haired Chihuahua, and several mixed breeds. The students, grades 6-8, were joined by Tails of Hope’s founder, Linda Blick, with her own therapy dog, Casey, a Pomeranian rescued from a hoarder. Initially reserved, the kids soon warmed up to their tail-wagging guests.

“When Linda invited me to do this presentation to kids, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect,” confessed Quinn. “I wanted to tell them about how healing having a dog with you can be in certain environments. So I talked about studies that show dogs can lower blood pressure and heart rate and elevate mood. And I explained to them how we use the dogs to distract people who are maybe having a panic attack or a difficult medical procedure, or maybe are just lonely.”

Quinn reported that the students, most of whom come from a disadvantaged background, were exceptionally receptive. “I think that they were the most polite and curious kids I’ve worked with to date. Before they touched any dog, they asked for permission. The energy in the room was so positive. They were more attentive and into it than groups from more affluent areas.”

Therapy dogs from Bright and Beautiful are being used in Newtown, CT, in the wake of the shootings. “I was contacted by some people from Newtown who had dogs that were trained as therapy dogs but not yet certified. We coordinated with them to get a chapter set up right away,” she said.

Allan’s Angels was named after Dr. Allan Leventhal, the founder of the Bolton Veterinary Hospital, which sponsors Allan’s Angels.

For more information about therapy dogs or Allan’s Angels, contact Alice Quinn at 860-926-4055, For more about Tails of Hope Foundation, go to Information about Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs may be found at

close window