LITTLE DOG LAUGHED ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPY

Portland, OR   |  https://www.theLittleDogLaughed.org

Mission

To use the joy of dog training in support of behavioral therapy professionals in their effort to nurture empathy and non-violent problem solving skills in at-risk youths.

Ruling year info

2012

President, Board of Directors

Linda Keast

Main address

7805 SW 40th Ave PO Box 80602

Portland, OR 97280 USA

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Formerly known as

The Little Dog Laughed, LLC

EIN

35-2431818

NTEE code info

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Animal Related Activities N.E.C. (D99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

At-risk children IN PARTICULAR need exposure to and the opportunity to practice pro-social, non-violent behaviors and coping skills. Trust is low, and attention spans short. Through the activity of positive dog training, our teams communicate in an empowering, entertaining way concepts which, happily, are exactly those behavioral skills most needed by these children: - how to build a positive relationship based on empathy, shared communication, and trust (includes specific "consent" training) - effective, non-violent methods of problem solving. - how to break down large problems into manageable bits - safe, respectful treatment of animals

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

See Tag And Reward - S.T.A.R. Classes

In a nutshell: Our volunteers offer a carefully structured set of short classes that teach behavioral and problem-solving skills by engaging the children in actively training our dogs using positive training techniques.

With the assistance of our dogs we create a safe micro-world, an environment where personal boundaries are respected and choices are honored, where a child can explore and practice non-violent means of problem solving. While learning how to train our dogs a child practices safe and respectful behavior with animals, how to “read” what the dog is saying, and how to communicate back calmly and clearly. Our dogs work almost entirely off-leash, most of them are not “snuggly”.

Longer explanation: Having a dog happily and willingly do silly games that you thought up and trained yourself is hugely empowering for little folks. With this tantalizing carrot, they willingly follow us through:
- Discussions of safe and respectful behavior around dogs
- Learning how to "speak dog” -- seeing what the dog is telling them through body language and adjusting their own behavior in response; and why it matters.
- The creation of a trust-bond between the dog and the human and how to maintain it (no "lies”, no compulsion, no violence).
- The power and fun of positive reinforcement and clear communication (clicker-training gives an immediate visual) – we have the kids practice clicker-training each other before (their choice of Skittles or Goldfish for treats) so that they are comfortable with the mechanics before they ever get to work with the dog.
- The process of breaking down complex problems/tricks into manageable bits ("How do you eat and elephant? One bite at a time!”).
- The power of teamwork.

We have a strong behavior modification bias because the target audience for The Little Dog Laughed AAT is at-risk children. While traditional therapy animals address people’s need for physical contact and emotional support in the moment, our Little Dog teams’ goal is to quietly teach and reinforce relationship and problem-solving skills that will improve a child’s chances for the rest of her life.

It is understood that our handlers are NOT therapists – we expect that role to be played by a qualified professional who is able to take a concept presented in the context of dog training and move it into the arena of human behavior. We also expect each professional to work with us in adapting our core message and presentation to address specific populations as needed – there is no "one size fits all”. The strength of the program is ACTIVE engagement, rather than just watching, and this requires small groups (4-6 max) with no more than 3 children per adult. Experience in the domestic violence shelters is showing us that working with children one at a time is the most powerful of all. And in silent support of the messages we explicitly deliver, the children are offered safe options as often as possible, and their choices are honored.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Children and youth

UNCOMFORTABLE FACT: Children are three times more likely than adults to be a victim of a dog attack. 77% of dog bites come from the FAMILY dog or a FRIEND’S dog.

Most dog bite victims are children, who don’t necessarily know how to be safe around dogs or what cues to watch out for. This is an area where we consider ALL children to be “at-risk”!

Besides emphasizing dog safety as part of every contact with children, we offer not one, but TWO dog safety programs suitable for group presentations to elementary and kindergarten audiences:

(1) The widely used Be a Tree™ Program designed by Doggone Safe. This program has a version that not require access to video equipment and does not include a live dog.
(2)The Family Dog has just released an amazing and lively set of materials suitable for preschool (“I Speak Doggie”) through elementary school (“Dog Stars”). This program does rely on the ability to display content stored on a computer, and there is the option to bring in a live dog.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Awards

Cameron Award for Outstanding Community Collaboration 2013

Vision Action Network of Washington County

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Goal 1: To create the infrastructure and resources to support expansion of services in the Portland Metro and surrounding areas.

Goal 2: To create and nurture healthy relationships with client organizations in our community

Goal 3: Continue to capture all forms, procedures, expenses, guidelines – EVERYTHING needed to intelligently guide others to replicate our program elsewhere, and to provide convincing evidence that our new therapy model actually works.

A more detailed account is available at https://www.thelittledoglaughed.org/2020/02/15/ongoing-goals/

Goal 1: To create the infrastructure and resources to support expansion of services in the Portland Metro and surrounding areas.
We identified the following steps to achieve this goal:

NEW AND HIGH PRIORITY (thanks to COVID-19) : Identify ways to conduct visits online. Since our normal approach is very hands-on, we will have to expand our repertoire of activities that allow us to connect emotionally and mentally with a child through the internet.

a. Recruit, train and support more volunteer dog/handler teams so that we can meet existing demand in the Portland Metro area as well as expand into surrounding areas. Steps toward this goal to include but are not limited to:
-- Streamline and enhance the training/evaluation process so that four teams can be certified in six months or less.
-- Provide a strong support system for approved S.T.A.R. team handlers.

b. Create a sustainable financial plan. Steps toward this goal to include but are not limited to:
-- Finalize a “Grant Application Kit" of up-to-date information for use by all members of the organization.
-- Formalize Organizational Policies

Goal 2: To create and nurture healthy relationships with client organizations
We identified the following steps to achieve this goal:
a. Define realistic screening criteria to be used in evaluating and prioritizing various types of potential client relationships.

b. Do not take on new clients until we have:
-- Applied the previously defined screening criteria AND
-- Verified that we have appropriately trained teams to support them.

c. Examine each client's method of connecting with at-risk youths, and where suitable create intervention models that support those methods.

d. Provide clients and potential clients information that clarifies and validates our program.
-- Create a professionally filmed/edited videotape illustrating our process and linking what they see to their own priorities. DONE
-- Create a brochure which succinctly describes in terminology appropriate for therapy professionals what our program does and does not do. DONE

Goal 3: Continue to capture all forms, procedures, expenses, guidelines – EVERYTHING needed to intelligently guide others to replicate our program elsewhere, and to provide convincing evidence that our new therapy model actually works.

a. Create a list of interested organizations, building on contacts made at ClickerExpo and elsewhere
b. Create a full‐featured workshop which can be offered to other organizations on how we work, etc.

At the boots-on-the-ground level, we currently have 9 active handlers and 12 therapy dogs. We hope to add at least one more team and 2 new dogs during 2020. The pandemic has affected -- but not curtailed -- our team training methods. We are actively adapting to live, online training sessions.

In answer to the current lock-down, we have applied for a grant to purchase sturdy tablets that can be either:
- a portal between select DV shelters who have been given one tablet and the therapy team, who will have the other.
- a "digital tool-kit" during live sessions.

Our Board and Advisory Board are drawn from a wide range of relevant specialties, and are well-suited to designing and running the organization. Our relationship with local government and NGOs working with domestic violence, homeless populations, and anti-gang education improves annually -- we have become a trusted resource.

From our original 3 clients, we now work with:
- Raphael House (domestic violence shelter)
- Monika's House (domestic violence shelter)
- Clackamas Women's Services (both the domestic violence shelter and their Family Justice Center)
- Good Neighbor Center (family shelter) - summer camp
- McKay Elementary School
- Trillium Family Services/Parry Center (residential treatment facility)
- Morrison Family Services (two immigrant children foster care facilities)
- HomePlate Youth Services (support for youth experiencing housing instability)
- Portland DBT Institute (mental health)
+ two more in the works: Boys & Girls Aid and Rosa Parks Elementary

A client-satisfaction survey conducted by a doctoral candidate at Pacific University was uniformly positive, with one caveat -- they wanted MORE team visits. The survey results are available on request.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    We serve at-risk youths in the Portland Metro area. Our direct clients are the agencies who support them -- Domestic Violence and Family shelters, schools, foster programs (including those for unaccompanied minors) and residential programs. All of our activities are under the supervision and guidance of the professionals from those agencies who are most closely responsible for the child in question.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Case management notes, In the past we've had interns create surveys of our community partners.,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We have no central facility where kids can come and participate -- we rely on our community partners (the agencies overseeing the kids) to provide safe and adequate areas for our visits. This is a problem when the community partner ALSO does not have a suitable area. We've recently amended our visit protocol to include inviting the child to come to one or more of our scheduled team practices to "help us train our dogs" (accompanied by their responsible adult, of course) and we pay them $5 for their assistance. This removes the potentially negative taint of this being "therapy" from the child's perspective, and allows the dogs/handlers to tag-team as needed. We had to cut this off during the last two COVID surges, but we're close to restarting again.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our board, our volunteer handlers,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    All relationships with our community partners has been and will be continue to be a mutual decision on what is safe for our teams and safe/beneficial for the children.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

LITTLE DOG LAUGHED ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPY
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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LITTLE DOG LAUGHED ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPY

Board of directors
as of 05/16/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Linda Keast

President of the Board of Directors, Chief Handler

Term: 2012 -

Linda Keast

Keast and Associates, LLC

Tina Arth

Retired Director of Physical Science Student Affairs, UC Irvine

Robert Robison

Retired Crime Victims Services Manager, Multnomah County Community Justice

Kristin Lewallen

Clinical Specialist II at ProtoCall Services, Inc.

Regina Noxon

Regina's varied background in teaching at residential facilities, animal training and volunteering provided the perfect foundation for her work with our organization.

Jonae Waldroop

Avid flyball and scent work competitor, she brings a wealth of both sports and business saavy to the program.

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/28/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person with a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/28/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.