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. Reading to therapy dogs has numerous therapeutic benefits for children. Interacting with a nonjudgmental and attentive companion like a therapy dog can create a safe and comfortable environment for young readers. The presence of a dog can help reduce anxiety, boost self-esteem, and increase confidence in struggling readers. Moreover, the calming effect of petting or being near a therapy dog can promote relaxation and decrease stress levels.

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


Therapy Dog Visits

The presence of a therapy dog has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and elevate mood. Therapy dogs also offer emotional support and companionship, helping to alleviate feelings of loneliness or depression. Moreover, these visits help to lower blood pressure and heart rate, as well as stimulate the release of endorphins, contributing to overall physical and mental well-being. Our therapy dogs have a remarkable ability to uplift spirits and bring smiles and joy to the young and young-at-heart!


Adams Elementary School, Adelante Elementary School, Aliso Elementary School, Assisted Living Santa Barbara, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Santa Barbara, Canalino Elementary School, Carpinteria Middle School, Casa Dorinda, 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, MOXI Children’s Museum, 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 Parent-Child Workshop, Thomas Fire First Responders, Transition House, Vieja Valley Elementary School, Vista del Monte, UC Santa Barbara, The WELL, Colleges of Law-Ventura, and the Westside Boys & Girls Club.

To schedule a therapy dog visit at your school or organization, please fill out the form on our Contact Us page.


Wag Well

Mental health and wellness is of utmost importance in today’s uncertain world  and combining Mindfulness and other self-care practices with the unconditional love of a therapy dog is a unique and beautiful gift we can give our children to help them navigate the world  with clarity, compassion and peace, and empower them to create and kinder and brighter future for all.

Since launching Wag Well  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 Wag Well and has taught Mindfulness to K- 6th graders for the last five 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 Life for Grades K-8. Karen is also a Veriditas trained Labyrinth Facilitator. Karen is the Co-Creator of Wag Well and has taught Mindfulness to K-8th graders for the last five years.

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

Therapy Dogs of Santa Barbara is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization
and all donations are tax-deductible.
Please consider making a DONATION today
and t
hank you for your support!