Tails of Joy Animal Asssisted Therapy, Connecticut

Providing Therapeutic Benefit to People
Through the Use of Animals

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Tails of Joy members volunteer throughout Hartford, Tolland and Windham counties and neighboring towns in Connecticut.


I am struck over and over again with how beneficial the pet therapy is for our kids, both in terms of their emotional well being and in their learning processes.
Ellen Pfarr
Elizabeth Webster Safe Home
New Britain

Reading Education Assistance Dogs®

About R.E.A.D.®

Reading Education Assistance Dogs ® is a program created by Intermountain Therapy Animals in Salt Lake City, Utah, that uses therapy animals to improve the literacy skills of children. Story Tails is a registered R.E.A.D. program and provides additional training for registered therapy animal teams.

Reading Education Assistance Dogs Celebrating 10 YearsTails of Joy Member Taffy Wilcox and team-mate, Kiza were featured on WFSB's Better Connecticut with Scot Haney.



Build the literacy skills and confidence of children.These special animals volunteer with their owners as teams, offering children an opportunity to improve their reading in a setting which has proven not only effective but fun. In addition to being registered as Pet Partners, teams have additional training in the Story Tails R.E.A.D. program.

Getting Involved With Your Pet

If you’re already a registered therapy team, consider these qualities of what a good R.E.A.D. team looks like, so you can consider whether this might be a good fit for you and your therapy companion.

  • Therapy Animal Qualities
    • Calm, quiet, attentive and comfortable in low-key setting
    • Able to deal with close and unexpected encounters with large groups of rambunctious children
    • Solid obedience skills
    • Tolerant of chaotic environments and sudden loud noises
    • Tolerant of tugging, pulling, and exuberant handling
    • Neutral to presence of toys and lunch remnants in trash baskets
  • Human Teammate Qualities
    • Enjoy children
    • Be a competent reader and love to read
    • Willingness to get to know the children
  • Required Commitment
    • Time commitments typically are for the duration of the school year or an ongoing library program
    • Grooming commitment as a desirable reading companion and role model

R.E.A.D. Reading Education Assistance DogsStill interested? "R.E.A.D. ® - The Essential Prerequisites" is a two page pdf document with a comprehensive list of team qualities.

If you're interested in becoming a R.E.A.D.® team with your pet but you aren't yet registered check out the other resources on our website, come to a Tails of Joy meeting to find out more and meet some therapy teams, or contact us for more information.
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Story TailsResearch with therapy animals indicates that children with low self-esteem are often more willing to interact with an animal than another person. Further, during such interaction they are inclined to forget about their limitations. There are also physiological benefits to interacting with animals, including increased relaxation and lower blood pressure. The premise of the R.E.A.D. program is that children will find reading to an animal less intimidating, a special time for them that is helpful and fun and will become a positive environment in which learning is facilitated.

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October 24, 2009, Plainville, CT

Author Rick AruzzaTails of Joy sponsored a Story Tails R.E.A.D. event with guest reader Rick Aruzza at the Plainville Public Library.

In addition to telling the tale of how Sparky came into his life, Mr. Aruzza read his most recent Sparky adventure, "The Great Candy Caper, Starring Sparky and Her Pals" to a delighted audience. Children then had individual reading sessions with Tails of Joy R.E.A.D. dogs.


Ollie promoting ReadingQuinn listening to a Sparky Adventure

Ollie Plainville Public Library

Rick Aruzza is the author of five children's books for beginning/young readers featuring Sparky's adventures, "Sparky's Walk," "No Rest for Sparky," "Sparky Coast to Coast," "Sparky's Big Race," and "The Great Candy Caper, Starring Sparky and Her Pals." (The first four are also in Spanish, "El Paseo de Sparky," "No Descanso Para Sparky," "Sparky de Costa a Costa," and "La Gran Carrera de Sparky.") Rick has done numerous book readings in schools and stores coast to coast (including San Francisco). And $1 from the sale of each book is donated to Adopt-A-Dog, as well as other animal organizations, as a thank you for saving such a wonderful dog. For more info about the books, visit Sparky's Web site, sparkyswalk.com

R.E.A.D. and Reading Education Assistance Dogs are registered service marks of Intermountain Therapy Animals. All rights reserved.

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Intermountain Therapy Animals

Tails of Joy is an ITA Affiliate Organization

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