Our mission is to bring comfort to children, to enhance the experience of learning, and to enrich the lives of our canine and human volunteers.

Our Story

A Message from Our Founder

Founder, Diane Smith & RoxyDear Reader,

Every dog owner knows the happiness and comfort a companion animal can provide, especially in difficult times. My beloved Grandmom Greth suffered from severe Alzheimer’s disease in the 1990’s. One day I witnessed my grandmother experience a brief respite from her symptoms when a bubbly lady with a therapy beagle brought her mind into the present — a rare treat.

She happily talked with everyone in the room during their visit. I will never forget how we connected over that dog! It was those moments that inspired me to adopt Roxy, a gentle Boykin Spaniel, and to start training in 2004 as an emotional therapy dog team.

Roxy’s love of children prompted me to offer therapy dog visits at my son’s elementary school in 2005, encouraging children with reading challenges to read aloud to her. We had an official name when our learning support students surprised us with a banner proclaiming, “Reading Rocks with Roxy Reading!

Roxy’s influence was undeniably powerful. Students with low self-esteem now had a nonjudgmental friend who happily snuggled and listened to them read. The kids flourished as reading became fun. They spontaneously whispered their challenges into her floppy ears, and they came to love and trust her.

Teachers told me Roxy reached these kids in a way no one else had been able to. A teacher survey indicated that every child said they loved reading to Roxy because she didn’t make fun of them. The students’ life and school behaviors improved, reading levels jumped, and self-esteem flourished.

Reading Rocks with Roxy Reading

And so we grew. We learned that good volunteers with good therapy dogs produce great results in kids. As one school superintendent put it, “The most remarkable thing about RRTD is that you are really in this only for the kids. What you have achieved for the children is extraordinary.”

Recognizing the dramatic and positive changes in the children working with our first few therapy teams, more and more teachers requested visits for their students, the waiting lists grew and the children reaped the benefits.

A snowball effect ensued. Teachers began requesting therapy teams; I scrambled to find friends with therapy dogs who could join us at school. We recruited volunteers and over time added visits to children in over a dozen schools, including students with a wide range of emotional, physical, and psychological challenges. Word about our comforting teams spread fast through our community and beyond. Handling requests for visits and recruiting teams became a job in itself!

Reading Rocks with Roxy Reading

Now, over a decade later, we have incorporated as a nonprofit, supported 1000’s of children in elementary and high schools, as well as in the courts. We bring comfort and smiles to child victims of abuse, neglect and violent crimes, to medically fragile children residing in group homes, and to pediatric patients in hospitals. Our programs have served as models of excellence for therapy dog groups across the country and have been featured in news media locally and nationally.

Today over 2,500 children are positively impacted each week through interaction with our therapy teams.

Our services provided by trained, certified and insured unpaid volunteers, entirely free of charge to families, schools and taxpayers, and are 100% dependent on donations from people like you who care about children.

My bucket list for Roxy Therapy Dogs is full of ideas and dreams for bringing this gift to as many children as possible. And as every plan culminates with another child feeling stronger, we look to the future as they face their challenges with dignity and the support of some very special canines!

Roxy Therapy Dog programs are 100% dependent on generous donations from the community. Please join us in our mission by making your tax deductible donation today.

Diane Smith, Founder