Welcome to Nellie's Schoolhouse

  • We connect children with autism, depression and anxiety to well trained and well behaved dogs. We are an ambulatory “classroom” in which our screened volunteers and their dogs visit children and their families in their homes over a predetermined period of time (after school and on weekends). As a parent of an autistic, depressed or anxious child, you are encouraged to explore and learn about the opportunities available for your youngster to be a member of Nellie’s Schoolhouse. The relationship between a child and a dog has been proven to be powerful and life changing.


  • See Nellie’s Schoolhouse in Action

Celebrate 2 Years of Nellie’s Schoolhouse!

You're Invited!

Join Us in Celebrating on November 5th

We’re looking forward to celebrating our two year anniversary, and we want you to be there! Join us for light fare and a silent auction on Sunday, November 5th from 4:30 to 6:30 at the Riverbend Environmental Center. Please RSVP by October 27th.

Join Schoolhouse Steps

A 1000-Mile Journey to Support Nellie’s Schoolhouse & Highlight Autism Awareness

Tom Richards, Executive Director of Nellie’s Schoolhouse, and his three golden retrievers, Gus, Nellie and Zeke are embarking on a 1000-mile trek to raise money for the organization. They will walk every day from April to October to reach their final 1000-mile goal. Each step they take will help and affirm the children and families who participate in Nellie’s Schoolhouse.

Our Goals

  • Our program helps children gain independence and self -confidence through the following activities:

    • Teaching a child how to properly approach, and pet a dog.
    • Teaching a child how to effectively groom a dog.
    • Teaching a child how to correctly treat and feed a dog.
    • Teaching a child how to safely and securely leash walk a dog.
    • Teaching a child how to give and implement verbal and non -verbal commands to dogs.
    • Teaching children how to understand the language of dogs and feel comfortable around their canine friends.

Children and their Families

  • We want the relationship between children and our dogs to be positive, stimulating, educational and most importantly, enjoyable. Therefore, just like with our volunteers and their canine companions, we ask children and their families to participate in a low-key and welcoming screening process. They are interviewed and assessed before they are accepted into Nellie’s Schoolhouse. Our director and an educational counselor meet and speak with each child and her family before visits begin, as it is critical for our volunteer/dog teams and children/family teams to have a effective and comfortable match.

Our Volunteers

  • We want volunteers who love dogs and children. We want even more volunteers who are dedicated to the belief that dogs bring comfort, understanding, education and self confidence to the children they serve. We want volunteers who are patient, positive, enthusiastic, and flexible and passionately believe that every child is filled with goodness, talent and unlimited potential.