Canine Therapy Corps Featured in "What You Do Matters"

Today, I am particularly excited to continue our 25th anniversary campaign “25 Moments from 25 Years.” This very personal edition focuses on Canine Therapy Corps' program at Haymarket Center, one that all three of my therapy dogs (Scotch, Rou, and Swindle), my husband Louie, and I have volunteered in over the years. Haymarket Center offers comprehensive behavioral health solutions to aid people with substance abuse disorders. Tonight at 9:00 p.m., Canine Therapy Corps’ work at Haymarket Center will be featured in the documentary “What You Do Matters,” which will debut on PBS (click here to watch online). 

This documentary, commissioned by The Chicago Community Trust to celebrate its 100th anniversary, focuses on the value of philanthropy by telling inspirational stories of individuals giving of their time, treasure, and talent to make a difference in the lives of others. Heartfelt thanks to Chicago Community Trust, Kurtis Productions, and Louanne Fries for believing in the work we are doing and featuring it in this poignant and potent documentary.      
In the film, Cheyenne, a transgendered woman who overcame substance abuse, will tell you, in her own words, how much she attributes her participation in our 2011 Haymarket Center program to her sustained sobriety. Canine Therapy Corps provided her with an opportunity to develop a powerful relationship with therapy dog Rou - a relationship she cherishes to this day. Cheyenne and Rou share an unbreakable bond; one which inspired her to change her life and aspire to something greater. Tune in to learn about her journey as well as see her heartfelt reunion with Rou and his volunteer handler, Louie.

While Cheyenne’s story is unique, our dogs touch and inspire many people every week. In the substance abuse recovery curriculum we run at Haymarket Center, therapy dog teams are paired with participants who need practice incorporating the skills they are learning in recovery – skills like patience, consistency, self-control, and perseverance. Over the course of a 6-week program, participants learn to communicate and build a mutually respectful relationships with the therapy dogs by training them on obedience, completing an agility course, and teaching them a new trick.     
Every session ends with a discussion, led by Canine Therapy Corps’ clinical program leader, which ties that week’s lessons into participants' everyday lives and personal recovery. Some participants gain much-needed self-esteem and self-confidence. The program empowers them to be patient and persevere as they gain their dogs’ attention and cooperation. Others learn to remain calm in the face of frustration.

When they are having a hard time teaching the dog a trick or mastering a concept, the dogs are supportive and non-judgmental, allowing participants a safe forum to practice maintaining their composure. The dogs are experts at providing real-time feedback because they are more likely to stay connected when their handler is positive and check out if their handler gives in to frustration. For many, the simple fact that the volunteers and therapy dogs return week after week helps them regain the ability to trust others and opens them up to forming social bonds, many of which were broken throughout the course of their addiction.  

What You Do Matters. Tune in or set your DVR to record PBS tonight at 9:00 p.m. The film will also be available online in the near future. As you’re watching, keep in mind that we are still working toward our end-of-year fundraising goal of $25,000 in honor of Canine Therapy Corps’ 25th anniversary. Your generous gift will enable us to provide more people like Cheyenne an opportunity to change their lives for the better by working with our amazing therapy dogs. 

Our social media campaign continues through December 18, the date of our 25th anniversary. Be sure to check us out on Twitter and Facebook, and look for our #CTC25for25 hashtag to discover more amazing moments from our organization’s history.      

What you do matters,     
Callandre A. Cozzolino, JD, CPDT-KA
Executive Director
Canine Therapy Corps, Inc.