Dharma Dogs touch the elderly, at-risk youth in outreach efforts

By on April 6, 2018

Not every dog training company has a mission to improve the lives of people who aren’t customers, but Dharma Dog Training isn’t just another company.

We’ve written much about the wonders that Kelley McAtee and her team can do for your and your dog’s behavior, but that’s only part of Dharma Dog Training’s story. Kelley knows how life-changing having a well-trained animal can be- she’s seen it happen for hundreds of clients. She also knows how life-changing having someone around who can listen, be supportive, and provide friendship can be. That’s why she and her dogs work with students and senior citizens in the community.

“Dharma does this outreach to raise the status of animals in our society,” she says, “and to shine a light on our dogs, showing how they have more to offer us than we might realize.” Dharma’s dogs are helping connect Kelley to other humans, showing everyone that we- dogs and people- all want the same things: unconditional love and understanding.

In March, Dharma connected with kids at the Wilson iJag Classroom. iJag is a non-profit connecting business and education to provide dropout prevention and school-to-career solutions in Iowa. Students in the iJag Program have trouble making it in a conventional classroom because of the distractions at home, from outside school, and even inside the classroom. The iJAG teaching specialists work within conventional learning environments to help remove barriers and show students how to achieve the next step of their education.

“This is just like the dogs we help who do not fit into traditional models of training,” Kelley says. “They are struggling to fit into a system that does not understand them because it is not designed to deal with their emotional and behavioral issues. That’s where we come in.”

This training gives kids a set of life skills that helps them with behavior issues. Dharma looks forward to a partnership that continues to bring these animals and kids together to help them understand they are not alone- they are in this together.




Dharma Dog Pack also visits residents at Midlands Living Center in Council Bluffs.

“Dogs accept us for exactly who we are, give us unconditional love, and connect us to each other,” Kelley says. She and the team has gotten to meet some amazing people, hear their stories, and brighten their days. “They’ve brightened ours, too.”

Kelley’s training dogs once needed this support themselves. Where they started was a place of fear, anxiety, and being overwhelmed. Their handlers have done amazing work with them and these dogs have all been through Dharma Dog Training programs to be able to do this kind of work. “We are so proud of how far they have come and what they are giving back to people now,” Kelley says of her pup Barry and company.

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