Relying on the human-animal bond to support healthy youth development.
EPIC Pals works to build qualities like compassion, empathy and dedication to service in young people by focusing on the bond between people and animals, and by raising awareness about animals in need. EPIC Pals also works to empower young people with skills that can help them better identify their own goals and work toward those goals while developing more self-confidence.
EPIC Pals Program Options
EPIC is able to offer the EPIC Pals program in a variety of manners that can suit the needs of most classrooms, after-school programs and youth groups.
In the traditional version of the EPIC Pals program, young people meet with a group facilitator and adult volunteers to discuss lessons from the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum, an animal-centered, social-emotional learning curriculum. Young people in this program are paired with rescue dogs and learn how to use positive reinforcement techniques to teach their furry friends some basic manners and a few fun tricks. Groups generally meet at least twice a week for six to eight weeks and culminate with a graduation where the young people have the opportunity to speak about their experiences in the program and demonstrate what they have taught ‘their’ dogs.
For larger groups, groups who can’t meet as frequently, or groups with other needs, EPIC offers other versions of the EPIC Pals program. EPIC has worked with numerous groups to offer regular lessons from animal-centered, social-emotional learning curriculums to students. EPIC can bring a dog along to these groups upon request. EPIC staff is also happy to offer humane education presentations to groups. Please contact us to find out if EPIC Pals might be a good fit for your group!
Volunteers are needed to work with young people as they complete the EPIC Pals training program. A series of the training groups usually lasts between six and eight weeks and generally meets for up to an hour and a half, twice a week. EPIC Pals volunteers are matched with a dog and young handler team, and work with that team throughout the series of classes. In addition to working one-on-one with program participants and ‘their’ dogs, volunteers are asked to participate in the group discussions, help young participants stay on task with the daily training lesson, and help EPIC staff with basic safety and logistical matters. Contact us to learn more about this fun and rewarding volunteer opportunity.
Foster a dog from a local rescue or shelter while he or she completes the EPIC Pals program, or enroll your adopted dog in the program! Young people in the EPIC Pals program work under the direction of a group facilitator along with the help of a dedicated volunteer to teach dogs a few basic manners as well as some fun tricks! Contact us if you would like to find out more about fostering a dog for a shelter or rescue organization while he completes the EPIC Pals program and prepares for his forever home or if you are interested in finding out more about the possibility of enrolling your adopted dog in the EPIC Pals program.
Presentations + Demonstrations
We are available to present to groups, businesses and organizations about the EPIC Pals program and the benefits of the human-animal bond. We are also available to present to young people in classes, after-school programs and youth groups about responsible dog ownership. We are always happy to bring a well behaved EPIC Pals along for a demonstration if you would like!