Why did you create this organization?
In 2011, at the request of a Washington County Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) dealing with the strong link between domestic violence and animal abuse, task force member Linda Keast and her dog Eli developed the S.T.A.R. program as the “stop the cycle” component of the group effort. “S.T.A.R.” refers to its clicker-training focus: See, Tag And Reward.
Why are you not part of one of the existing therapy animal organizations?
We tried. All nationally-recognized animal therapy organizations we contacted – Pet Partners® (formerly Delta Society) and Alliance of Therapy Dogs (formerly Therapy Dogs Inc.) and or Gabriel’s Angels – specifically prohibit off-leash work. In addition, some have strong cautions or outright bans on key components of our program:
In order to purchase the needed liability insurance we formed “The Little Dog Laughed, LLC”, which in the process of obtaining 501(c)(3) status morphed into the nonprofit corporation “The Little Dog Laughed Animal-Assisted Therapy”.
Why “The Little Dog Laughed”? I get the nursery rhyme connection, but ….!
See the expression on the face of our logo? That is universally recognized as the sign of a confident, happy dog that feels safe and is having a good time. Dog trainers who use positive training techniques know it well. Having the “little dog laugh” is a clear and unambiguous signal to children training a dog that they are doing a good job. The therapist/counselor has the opportunity to extend this concept to inter-human relations.