COPE Service Dogs in Training Are Helping Keep Kids in School

Amazing COPE Service Dogs and School programs make the lives of kids better

We had the pleasure of meeting Jane Boake the founder and chair of COPE Service Dogs recently and the chance to see the various COPE school programs with Service dogs in action.


It was both incredibly inspiring and humbling to witness how these dogs and the COPE Service Dogs and School Programs are making such an impact even while the dogs are still  in training.

COPE Greeting protocol

COPE has several programs that benefit children and youth while pairing them with the dogs in training. These dogs are making a difference in many lives before they even help their forever humans. The students that work in these programs can take pride in the role they play in enhancing the lives of people with disabilities, who are the future Life Partners of COPE Service dogs-in-training.

COPE Service Dogs and School Programs – Canines in the Classroom

The Canines in the Classroom program is a unique format that gives high school students who face challenges that may prevent them from graduating from high school, an opportunity to learn how to train service dogs.

COPE Greeting

The program, which takes place during the school day, is linked to the Ontario secondary school curriculum. This means that students can earn high school credits while learning essential literacy and workplace skills.

Jared with COPE dog

Students introduce their canine partners to as many as 90 commands which include: opening doors, turning on lights, retrieving out of reach items and helping with dressing – tasks that a person using a wheelchair, for example, might have difficulty doing on their own.

attentive COPE dog with little boy

After meeting some of the student trainers currently working in the program and past trainers who now volunteer because they just can’t get enough- you can really see how this program has changed these teenager’s lives.

COPE’s Reading Buddy Program

Little boy reading to Black COPE dog

The impact on the high school students training these service dogs isn’t the limit of their reach. These dogs also have an impact on younger elementary school students through COPE’s Reading Buddy program.

The Reading Buddy program sees Canines in the Classroom student/dog teams travel to elementary schools to turn their pairs into a trio and help motivate young students to read.

Velvet being read to COPE Reading buddies

The child is able to spend time with someone who encourages reading and is not critical. After all, a dog won’t judge you if you read too slowly, or you are reading books meant for younger students. By reading to a COPE dog, young students who wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable in reading a single sentence in front of other students or teachers, gain confidence while they practice and build literacy skills in a positive environment.

How You Can Get Involved

If you’re interested in the work that COPE is doing and would like to get involved like us,  you can visit their website at

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  • This is an absolutely fabulous program. Dogs and kids always go well together!

  • What a wonderful program for everyone involved. I am so happy to see schools invest in programs like this! What a refreshing post – put a smile on my face!

  • Rachel 4 months ago

    What an amazing program! Dogs are just awesome. It is wonderful that they’re able to help these kids while they’re still in training. What special dogs! Thank you for sharing this.

  • Shayla 4 months ago

    I love this program! It’s such an amazing way to connect and heal!

  • Shelby 4 months ago

    Adore this!! I think service dogs can help schools so much.

  • What an amazing program! I’ve never heard of this before. How great is this for the teenagers as well as the kids involved in the Reading Buddy Program?? Thanks for sharing, this is great.

  • It never ceases to amaze me how animals can heal and help us. Cope sounds like a wonderful program!

  • I love seeing dogs in schools to help children. I hope this can spread and be accepted everywhere.

  • It’s amazing in how many ways dogs make our lives better. This is a wonderful program. I can see how helpful this could be.

  • Kamira Gayle 4 months ago

    What a great program to help kids and give dogs purpose beyond their companionship. Will share this with others. Never underestimate the power of love and bond between an animal and human.

  • I wish there was a program like this around here! I love their motto “unleashing potential!” I hope more areas start to have programs like COPE.

  • As a former school teacher, I wish this had been available for students I taught. I used to admire the fact that the science teacher could have animals in the classroom. I did take my previous cat to my college classroom at times when I was helping students study for a math final. The COPE program is wonderful.

  • This is such an awesome program! I love it! Therapy dogs (and cats) can really change the way people think and behave. I’ve just begun working with an organization that is training a dog to help calm victims of human trafficking so that the police can talk to them more easily. We can all use a little love from a pet! They understand us in a way that other humans just can’t understand us.

  • I agree that this is an amazing program. I don’t understand why we didn’t need dogs like this when I was in school but they are needed now. I sometimes wonder if we are just creating problems for kids nowadays (says the old fogey). I had a blind student in my class and he didn’t even have a dog!

  • The Canines in the Classroom program is a great idea! Giving those that struggle to be successful a chance to excel with the dogs they work with, love it!

  • That’s a really cool program! I’m hoping Mr. N can do a reading program in a year or two.

  • Wow! This is such an awesome program! I love reading about things like this. It is truly inspiring. I can only imagine the difference this program has made in the lives of the students and people involved. Thanks for sharing about it!