History of Therapy Dog

As the saying goes, a dog is a man’s best friend. This has led to the belief that dogs can provide company, affection and support to people who are going through a difficult time or who feel lonely. As a result, therapy dogs started to be provided to people living in retirement homes, nursing homes and even in hospitals. They are also in some schools and educational centers so as to assist children who have learning difficulties.

The effect that therapy dogs can have on such people is substantial. They can help people to relax and help in a therapeutic manner. This will then lead people to concentrate more, or to feel less stressed out. A therapy dog will help both emotionally and physically.



It is interesting to note that the first type of therapy dog goes back to the time of World War II. Corporal William Wynne had found an abandoned female Yorkshire Terrier. He named her Smoky, and started to take care of her. In time, Smoky started to take care of him too in her own way. In fact she used to accompany Wynne on combat missions where she helped to lift his morale as well as provide some comfort during such a difficult time.

Later, Wynne was hospitalized due to a jungle disease. Wynne’s colleagues took Smoky to cheer him up a bit. Smoky not only managed to entertain Wynne, but also the several other wounded soldiers who were being treated in the hospital. Having noticed her positive impact, he commanding officer, Dr. Charles Mayo, gave permission to Smoky to go on rounds around the hospital. As a result, Smoky became the first therapy dog we know of.

The idea led to Elaine Smith, an American nurse, to start a program where dogs were allowed to visit patients in hospital. In time the demand for therapy dogs started to grow.

In fact in 1982 a non-profit organization, named Tender Loving Zoo (TLZ), was founded. This helped disabled children and elderly people to find companionship and support through therapy dogs and general animal therapy.