Helping to improve children's literacy, One Paw in one Hand at a time.

PJ’s Pals Program

One child reads to one dog in a quiet, non-judgmental setting. This method allows children
the freedom to read without fearing they might make a mistake.

PJ's Pals is patterned after the R.E.A.D.® Program (Reading Education Assistance Dogs)
Started in November, 1999 by Sandi Martin for Intermountain Therapy Dogs in Salt Lake City, Utah. In early 2003, two of our members went to Utah to be trained by Sandi Martin and Kathy Klotz, executive Director of Intermountain Therapy Dogs. PJ’s Pals is committed to follow their lead because of all of the children who have benefited by participating in their program.

If you would like additional information or have any questions, please contact
PJ's Mom,
Nancy Winters

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Ten years ago an 11 month old, 85 lb, black Lab/Golden dog stole my heart. He was on a rescue website and I knew the first time I saw him he was my heart dog. He’d always been in a kennel and didn’t know about the big world around him or how big he was.
He loved to run and play with the other dogs at our house. I found out soon he didn’t have a clue of how to stop or turn his body when running. I soon learned to get out of his way. He was always so happy to see me and once ran around the corner of the building, jumped up and knocked out my tooth. Many might have given up on him, but I knew he was a diamond in the rough.

As he grew older the founding members of our therapy group named the group after him, PJ’s Pals, because he was a wonderful therapy dog and loved to listen to children read to him. In his past 9 years as a therapy dog, PJ has had many children read to him at schools and libraries. He visited 2 hospitals, one was a 20 bed pediatrics and 20 bed pediatric oncology, a children’s bereavement center, Camp Erin, and senior residential centers.

PJ has taught me many lessons over these past years. Here are just a few.

A Tail of Love

Seven lessons of life I learned from my dog, PJ.

1. Always have faith and accept help.

2. Turn the other cheek.

3. Respect the little ones.

4. Big is beautiful. 1

5. If you’re in pain, don’t be a pain.

6. Be there when someone needs you.

7. It’s OK to say no.

1 Big is beautiful; PJ weighed up to 127 lbs and people always commented how beautiful he was and always admired his extra large feet. Although he was so big, he was as gentle as a kitten.

2 Be there when someone needs you. Not only was PJ there for all he visited, but also for me. When I tore my meniscus, PJ walked me one step at a time from the agility yard into the house.

3 Respect the little ones: PJ always put his big body down to the level of those he visited, whether it was a child or small dog. I didn’t teach him this, he was just showing respect to all he met.

4 If you’re in pain, don’t be a pain: 1 year ago PJ developed congestive heart failure. He was in pain and almost died. He still charmed all he met in the vet hospital. With oxygen stapled to his head he still wagged his tail.

5 Always have faith and accept help. Although PJ was only given 6 months to live, with the loving care of his vets and heart medication he is still visiting once every three months instead of his 9 visits a month.

My heart dog is now enjoying his semi retirement after touching so many lives and helping so many children and patients. He was truly a diamond in the rough and is now is a sparking diamond after his many years of service. Thank you PJ, we all love you!

To all PJ's Pals,

It is with heartfelt sorrow I let you know that PJ has lost the long fight with congestive heart failure and is with Fargo at Rainbow Bridge. I have attached something I wrote about him after he was first diagnosed. I know all his Pals will carry on his mission. Thank you to all of you for all you do and please give your dogs a big hug!