As of January 2024, we are at capacity and are not adding new visits. Please check back mid-year for updates.

Mission Statement

Caring Canines’ goal is to provide emotional support, comfort, encouragement and share the joy and health benefits that dogs bring to our lives. We are an extremely dedicated volunteer group that strives to improve the lives of the people we visit, our dogs, and ourselves.

How We Began

Caring Canines was founded in September 1999 by Colonial Heights native Donna Henley. We started with just a handful of friends who were interested in trying this fun kind of work. Over the years we have grown to over 130 dog/handler teams.

Who We Serve

Our teams visit a variety of people with different needs. These include:

Skilled Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Centers. Living in a long term care facility can be lonely.  Many residents have had to give up their pet when they moved to these centers.  They are eager to re-connect with a pet and remember the love they had for their own animal, whether as a child or an adult.   Our teams often establish a continuing connection by visiting the same facility on a regular basis. We have seen the residents break into a smile when we walk in the door.

Hospice Care. Someone nearing the end of life draws comfort and solace from the visit of a therapy dog.  The dog can help divert the person’s attention from his illness, if only for a little while.   This also creates special memories for our visiting teams.

Hospitals.  A hospital stay is often very stressful.  A therapy dog can help the patient deal with the emotional issues related to their illness.  The dog allows the person to focus on something other than themselves and their pain, and this can help motivate them in physical therapy and other exercises.  The dogs also provide a much needed break for the staff, who are delighted to spend a few moments greeting and petting the dogs.

Libraries. We visit several libraries in the area through the Read2Rover program.  Children love to read to our dogs – what could be more fun than an attentive, lovable dog that listens to your every word?  Many parents have told us their child has advanced at least one grade level in reading class as a result of these programs.

We are currently not accepting new requests for visits and will only add facilities if we have available teams to visit. We are located in Richmond, VA. For recurring visits information, please contact Joan Nuttle at about the availability of teams. For special events (one-time visits), please contact Joan Vaughan at

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