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What is a Therapy Dog?

Sometimes referred to as a Social dog or Social Therapy dog, this type of assistance dog can provide unconditional love and acceptance and other important therapeutic benefits to improve quality of life for a child or an adult with "special needs".  Applicants may include, but not be limited to, someone struggling to cope with a life threatening health issue, a physical disfigurement, multiple disabilities, or cognitive impairments like Alzheimer Disease or Downs Syndrome.  Therapy dogs are also used by health care professionals and therapists to facilitate prescribed therapeutic activities in institutions and private practice.

Photo: Dan with Therapy Dog Reggie - End of Photo Description

Reggie, our first Social Therapy dog, was donated to our program by Pam Smith DVM, a breeder of Labrador Retrievers.  His cheerful presence and loving ways put a smile on the face of everybody who meets him.  The photo on this page shows Reggie with his partner who wears a cap to hid the loss of hair induced by chemotherapy.  Dogs like Reggie can greatly ease the uncomfortable awkwardness of social encounters with relatives, old friends and customers who are going to be shocked by the change in appearance of someone battling cancer.  As a result, the partner may become less of a social hermit, gaining the strength to face the outside world.  This is just one of the ways in which a social therapy dog can make a considerable difference.


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