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K9Pro Angels - Pets as Therapy Program

The K9Pro Angels - Pets as Therapy program was originally designed in partnership with the charity Yourtown (formerly Boystown) to help improve the literacy skills and self-esteem of disadvantaged children.

This pet therapy program involves a team of volunteers in Sydney, the K9Pro Angels, and their dogs visiting the San Miguel Family Centre, a service of Yourtown, once a week.

Participating kids are able to do things such as read to the dogs, one on one in a relaxing and stress free environment.

Encouraging kids to read to the dogs removes the threat of judgement that they can feel when reading to their peers or teachers in a normal school environment.

They also help train the dogs by reading training instructions to the handlers and also learn how to behave correctly around dogs and respect our canine friendsNot only will this help improve these children’s literary skills and help them gain more self-esteem and confidence, but it is also an opportunity to learn how interact appropriately and safely with dogs.

Steve Courtney
is a Nationally Accredited Dog Trainer and Behaviourist who was approached to design and develop a K9 reading therapy programme for YourTown. All dogs participating in any K9Pro Angels programme will be temperament tested for their suitability to join.

“This programme can make a huge difference for these kids because by having the dogs there we are giving them a reason to engage with us to improve their reading and other skills. It’s something new for them and they love it! For us, being able to make such a valuable contribution with our canine best friends is a rewarding experience”. 

The program is headed up by program manager Trish Hendry, who herself has two German Shepherds trained as therapy dogs. Trish is still an active Volunteer and visits Yourtown with her dogs. The program volunteers are good people volunteering their time to work with people who may not have access to dogs or those who may be disadvantaged in some way.

K9Pro Angels have also now teamed up with Anglicare Australia to bring the volunteers into the many aged care facilities they have located in the Sydney Metropolitan area. 

After each visit to either YourTown or an Aged Care Facility, the Angels are encouraged to share their experience and stories on a private Facebook (closed group) page. In this way, they can stay in touch and also learn from each other's visits. Here is an example of a couple of visit “reports” from a K9Pro Angel

“We spent two hours visiting residents on all three levels of the home today, including the dementia ward, seeing a “light turn on” with some of the residents, my volunteer co-ordinator at the home commented that some of the residents were more lucid and chatty than usual. So worth the happy smiley faces, others reminiscing about their dogs, some just enjoying a pat and loving how soft my dog’s fur is.” 

“Animals are amazing ,while I toddled around the home with Ricki, trying to get my bearings, looking at my residents' list, to see who does and who doesn't want dog visits, Ricki had it sorted... She's already starting to head into rooms of people she clearly remembers visiting last week. My dog never ceases to amaze me.”

"Whilst the program already has a number of great volunteers on board, we are wanting to expand the program and we need some more Angels" explains Steve Courtney.

“The kind of dogs that are most suitable for this work would be dogs that are well balanced in temperament, not nervous of children or noise, and would be happy to relax quietly on a mat while a child sits next to them. 

If your dog has not been mat or crate trained before but meets the temperament required for therapy work, we can assist you with training these behaviours and other skills.”

Volunteers are needed at the moment for the Anglicare Aged Care facilities. 
The volunteers can elect to visit a nursing home in an area that suits them and their location, at a time and frequency that will suit their own schedule. 

To become an Angel you will need to contact the team at K9 Pro who can answer any questions that you may have. Next, every dog participating needs to be given an official temperament test by Steve to be eligible for the program but there are no costs associated with the training or assessment of any dog. 

Once your dog has visited Steve and been passed as suitable to join the program, you then attend an Orientation Day conducted by Anglicare Australia where screening will be completed such as a Criminal Record Check etc., again all at no cost to you. 

Angels universally enjoy the visits and working with their dogs. To become an Angel, you will ideally:
  • Be a man or woman over 18 years of age
  • Have a suitable dog of any breed ( determine suitability for you)
  • Have completed the Working with Children Check
  • Have own transport
  • Have a desire to work with your dog and have some free time to offer.
If you are interested in volunteering in the K9Pro Angels Child Therapy Program and feel your dog is suitable send an email to with your details.

This is a volunteer not for profit venture by K9 Pro – The K9 Professionals.

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