Tri-State Canine Response Teams partnered with the students and staff in more than 40 schools over the last three years. During the pandemic, we rethought our method of delivering services, and switched to a virtual format. Not only did we maintain our connections with school children, but we also increased the opportunity for other dogs to participate and provided a variety of “virtual field trips”. Our main focus is on Crisis Response, but we have found that “soft” visits to introduce the school community to our programs and members, help to facilitate a more effective response during a crisis. We have developed a variety of school activities for that purpose. We also partner with a local library for a reading program.
Most visits are planned for one hour and include an age-appropriate summary of our mission and our work, followed by an introduction of our team members and their dogs. Being able to pet the dogs and interact one on one with the handlers in small groups is the best part of each visit.
Depending on the stated purpose of the visit, we offer the following:
Pet Parades This is an outside visit with brief introductions and limited interactions with dogs and handlers depending on size of the group.
School Assemblies Teams support the theme of the assembly through our introductions and comments about our dogs. Limited interaction.
Classroom Visits In-person or virtually, teams talk about their dogs and answer questions about their training, work, habits, etc. Participants interact with dogs and handlers in small groups in an in-person visit.
Partnerships with Mental Health Initiatives Teams work with school’s mental health programs by providing destress activities during exam times, mental health fairs/celebrations, and school-wide initiatives focusing on healthy living and good mental health.
Classroom Visits Supporting a Specific Educational Objective With prior planning, team members can support a teacher’s objective through our introductions and comments. Team members will include as many descriptive words as possible for lesson on adjectives, a lesson on kindness could include a discussion of ways that we are kind to our dogs and vice versa. Reactions, questions, and comments can be used as journal entries or as writing prompts.
Guidance/Special Services /Small group Support A handler and dog team join a small group or individual student during a session led by a counselor or therapist.
Crisis Response for Student, Staff or School Crisis/Comfort Rooms During a difficult time in a school, comfort rooms are often helpful. Tri-State teams gather in a specified area of the school and are available for the students and staff that choose to visit.
Club Partnerships Tri-State Canine Response Teams have partnered with animal clubs, pre-vet programs and clubs that are supportive of good mental health and kindness. Clubs often fundraise for us as a part of their service.
Canine Reading Program Tri-State Canine Response Teams partner with the Cherry Hill Library in our Barking Buddies Program. Children that sign up through the library spend 15 minutes reading to a dog and handler via zoom. Conversations about the book, the dogs and the child are a part of every virtual visit.
Teacher In Service Programs Members of Tri-State Canine Response Team can present in-service programs on Psychological First Aid and QPR, a gatekeeper suicide prevention program.
Presentations/Comfort Rooms at Conferences
De-stress sessions during exam times