Since opening in 2019, Highland Canine Connect has been proud to have a positive impact on the lives of many individuals. From our flagship service dog and police dog donation programs; protecting our planet through the training of a conservation detection dog; and community outreach such as our School Reading Program, we have established a number of programs which truly make a difference.
To this point, our community programs have been based near our base in North Carolina. In an exciting development, we are pleased to announce that Highland Canine Connect will be expanding with a new chapter in Tampa, Florida.
Headed by Program Manager, Nancy Horbert, Highland Canine Connect will initially offer a Therapy Dog program in the Tampa area. Nancy’s role will involve liaising with volunteers with appropriately socialized and behaved dogs for therapy work, in addition to identifying locations such as schools and nursing homes.
To learn more about this expansion, Nancy explains below about her motivation and mission for helping to launch this new chapter of Highland Canine Connect in the Tampa area.
If you wish to volunteer for Highland Canine Connect in Florida, reach out to Nancy directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (813) 810-9271.
Bringing our programs to Florida
Introducing Highland Canine Connect’s programs to the Tampa area will be no small task, but the hard work will all be worth it – as Nancy explains.
“As the Program Manager for Highland Canine Connect in Tampa, my job will be to secure locations in the local area for therapy dogs to visit. These include venues such as libraries, schools, therapist’s offices, and events which are geared towards the special needs community.
I will also oversee the interview process for potential therapy dog teams, and set up evaluations with Brittany Mojica, a professional dog trainer with Highland Canine Training, LLC in Tampa. Brittany will be a key figure, donating her time and expertise to offer therapy dog training to teams who are accepted into the program.
Once teams have successfully completed the training, I will arrange locations and times for teams to provide pet therapy. I will also oversee fundraising initiatives for Highland Canine Connect in Florida.”
Nancy’s previous experiences with therapy dogs
“Highland Canine Connect’s mission statement is transforming lives through the power of canine connections,” says Nancy. “To understand why I wanted to help launch a branch of Highland Canine Connect in the Tampa Bay area, I have a personal recollection of pet therapy I would like to share.
About 15 years ago, I attended dog training classes with my former boss, Steve Garrett. After successfully completing the training, Steve and I decided to do pet therapy at a local hospital.
Our dogs loved going to the hospital every Sunday. We went to the same floors each week, so we built up a close relationship with the staff. One Sunday, as we were making our rounds, a nurse asked if we could visit a young woman. This lady had a feeding tube in and was unresponsive.
As we walked around her bed so she could see the dogs, the lady turned her head. The nurse was almost in tears, Since this lady had been admitted to the hospital, she had not responded to anything – that was, until our dogs had their interaction with her.
Because of the difference in her demeanor – and the fact that our dogs were the first thing she had responded to – the nurse asked if there was a way we could come back during the week. We started to do that, and week-by-week, the young lady’s condition improved. She couldn’t wait for the dogs to come and see her.
Four weeks later, it was Christmas Eve. We went to visit her, and she was having the feeding tube removed. The staff allowed us to see her prior to her operation, so the dogs could tell her Merry Christmas and give her a gift. Just one week later, she walked out of the hospital!”
Aims for Highland Canine Connect in Tampa
“The story of the young lady in the hospital demonstrated to me the powerful way in which dogs can provide benefits to humans,” explains Nancy. “Just their mere presence can make an immense difference.
We hope to be able to provide similar experiences through Highland Canine Connect’s Therapy Dog Program. I want the program to positively impact our community. In addition, I am also excited about the fundraising side of our non-profit, which will bring greater awareness to our mission and enable us to provide therapy dog sessions and trained service dogs to people who truly need them.”