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Steve and his Doberman Puppy.jpg

Steve Hardenbergh, a U.S. Navy Vietnam Veteran and his doberman puppy in 2005, practicing basic obedience class.


U.S. Army Veteran, Collina Rosales, works with Ivy, a Rottweiler Puppy that is

being helped in our classes

to work on basic obedience + manners for

a family that needed extra help.


Youth participant, Anthony, works with a beautiful Swiss Mountain Dog.  Gracie, the Swiss Mountain Dog is a therapy dog, who works with her handler, Karen, through Bright + Beautiful Therapy Dogs.


In 2005, Circle of Change was founded with the purpose of helping U.S. Military Veterans suffering the challenges of living with PTSD, TBIs and effects of trauma post-service, through innovative dog training and handling experiences.  

why dogs?

why dogs.

Studies show that dogs can help humans:

  • Lower Blood Pressure

  • Elevate Dopamine + Oxytocin (Aid in Positive Feelings)

  • Reduce Stress + Anxiety

  • Ease Loneliness

  • Encourage Exercise

  • Improve All-Around Health

  • Increase Self-Worth (Responsibility leads to skills)

  • Aid in Socialization (Particularly individuals ages 50+)

  • Increases Sense of Purpose

  • A Dog Will Never Judge

who do we serve?

Circle of Change is a nonprofit that targets specific groups of individuals that are at a higher than average risk of dying by suicide.  We currently offer free dog programs for the following groups:

  • U.S. Military Veterans (with or without dogs)

  • Youth (ages 9-19) with a mental health diagnosis/or community partner referral

  • First Responders, both currently serving+ retired

do we train service dogs?

Though we have individuals that have brought or trained their service dog in our program, we are a "people" organization that utilizes dogs.  That means while you will likely learn a lot about the different dog breeds, caring for a dog, basic obedience, and more, our goal isn't to give participants a dog or to train service dogs.

In fact, you do not need to own a dog or bring your own dog to participate.  Circle of Change is a wonderful place to gain skills before getting a dog, or to enjoy working and interacting with a dog, without all the responsibilities.

can i bring my dog to train?

A participant can bring their own dog to utilize and train in the program.  Their are certain safety standards that we maintain for all our dog programming, however.  Your dog must be current on all communicable disease vaccines (including kennel cough), be free of flea + ticks, and be cleared for participation by Circle of Change or our expert dog trainers.  Though in the adult classes, we often work on behavioral rehabilitation with many of the dogs, safety is ALWAYS our number one goal for every class.  

how can i join a class?

Give us a call or Text at (815) 200-9020 or email Circle of Change at to register or learn how to join a class.

Please be aware, our classes are free to all approved participants. Our classes are paid for through community grants, fundraisers, and private donors.  Our rotations are 8-weeks long and registration is required before starting classes.  We do accept enrollments at any point in the class rotation.  

Weekly class attendance is strongly advised.  If a participant misses more than 2 classes, without communicating with the organization, that participant runs the risk of losing their spot, if their is a waiting list.


Classes re-start the week of September 11, 2023



U.S. Military Veterans suffering with PTSD, TBIs and other mental health challenges work weekly with dogs under the supervision of one of highly-qualified dog trainers.  



Youth between the ages of 9-19 years old work with volunteers to practice obedience, learn coping skills and do hands-on projects with dogs, under the guidance of the Circle of Change staff and Professional Dog Trainer, Cristy Aldrich.


first responders

First Responders, active or retired witness trauma on a near daily basis.  Circle of Change First Responder Dog Program aims to give our local heroes and outlet to help manage the stress and anxiety that come with their jobs in a healthy and positive way.

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