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Special canines with a special purpose
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Special Canines with a Special Purpose

While dogs are primarily pets, they sometimes have special occupations, too. As community volunteers, many are well-suited as therapy dogs. They receive special training to serve as helpers and visitors for people in hospitals, schools and assisted living facilities. They are known to lower blood pressure and stress levels, providing comfort and camaraderie to patients. They are often one of the few visitors that patients receive and are proven to have a calming and even jovial effect on the people they visit.


The therapy dog's origins can be traced back to World War II, where dogs were first used as visitors for soldiers in the hospital. Their primary purpose was to cheer up patients in recovery. In 1976, a formal therapy dog training program was started by an American Nurse, Elaine Smith. The special purpose for canines has grown over the years to help those with emotional problems, learning and communication disabilities, and speech difficulties. Children are especially responsive to therapy dogs.


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