ARF! (Animals + Reading = Fun!)

ARF! is an innovative literacy program that gives students an opportunity to improve their reading skills and inspire them to become life-long readers by reading aloud to specially trained therapy dogs. Children in grades K-3 are “learning to read” and by fourth grade, they are “reading to learn.” It’s vitally important that children become proficient readers in the early grades in order for them to be successful in all school subjects, which helps them in all facets of their lives. Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara provides in-school and after-school programming for low-income students throughout Santa Barbara. Through weekly, one-on-one reading sessions with a therapy dog team, students develop positive reading habits and improve their comprehension while having fun.

To learn how you can become an ARF! therapy dog team, please visit our Volunteer page.


Therapy Dog Visits

Throughout the year, our therapy dogs bring joy and smiles to the young and the young-at-heart!


Adams Elementary School, Adelante Elementary School, Assisted Living Santa Barbara, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Santa Barbara, Canalino Elementary School, Central Public Library, Child Abuse Listening and Meditation (CALM), Carpinteria Public Library, Cleveland Elementary School, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Crane Country Day School, Dos Pueblos High School, Eastside Public Library, Franklin Elementary School, Harding Elementary School, Girls Inc., Hope Elementary School, Hope Refuge, Laguna Blanca School, LinkedIn, Lompoc Valley Middle School, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Maravilla, McKinley Elementary School, Monroe Elementary School, Montecito Public Library, Notre Dame Elementary School, San Marcos High School, Procore, Raytheon, Santa Barbara City College, Samarkand Retirement Community, Santa Barbara High School, St. Raphael Elementary School, Storyteller Children’s Center, Summit Elementary School, The Oaks Preschool, Thomas Fire First Responders, Vieja Valley Elementary School, Vista del Monte, UC Santa Barbara, The WELL, and the Westside Boys & Girls Club.



In a world that’s becoming increasingly uncertain, it’s vital we give our young people the essential skills they need — not only to survive — but to thrive. Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara believes the best way to accomplish this goal is through MINDFULNESS.

Since launching MINDFUL KIDS in 2019, our instructors have taught more than 1,500 youngsters  and their teachers the skills they need to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and increase focus and resilience.


CAT SMITH is a Board Certified Hypnotherapist and has recently retired from a successful twenty-five year private practice. Cat is also a Certified Yoga Instructor. Cat has attended the five day workshop and received a Certificate of Completion from The Mindful Education Summit. Cat  has also received Certificates for successfully completing Mindfulness Fundamentals and Mindful Educator Essentials through Mindful Schools. Cat is the Co-Creator of Mindful Kids and has taught Mindfulness to K- 6th graders for the last four years.

KAREN LEE STEVENS is a Certified Humane Education Specialist through The Humane Society of the United States. Karen has completed a 200-hour Meditation Teacher Training from the Veda Center, she is is a trained Mindfulness Instructor through Mindful Schools and she has received Certificates of Achievement from MindUP for Schools for Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, and Grades 6-8. Karen is also a Veriditas trained Labyrinth Facilitator. Karen is the Co-Creator of Mindful Kids and has taught Mindfulness to K-8th graders for the last four years.

To learn how you can bring Mindfulness to your school or children’s organization, please reach out to us via our Contact page.

Our programs are provided at no cost to our partner schools, libraries and children’s organizations.
Please consider making a DONATION today.
Together, we can inspire children to become better readers and develop empathy for animals!
Thank you for your support!