Shown in our video are TDI's Disaster Stress Relief Dog teams and TDI dog teams who responded after the Oklahoma Tornado from May 20th, 2013
TDI was represented at a THANK YOU ceremony in Newtown with some of the therapy dog teams who have been working in the various schools in Newtown, CT after the horrible shooting incident from December 14, 2012.

TDI in the News :

New therapy dog sees patients at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center

Therapy Dogs International chapter to host therapy dog test Nov. 23

A tail-wagging listener

Hospice of Western Reserve dogs provide comfort

Getting acquainted with Huck

Puppy love

Pet therapy

'She's a dog and I love reading'

Therapy dog loves volunteering at Continental Manor

LARSON: Dog days both free and fun

Bonnie and Randy receive highest therapy-dog awards

Dogs with heart

Therpay dog delights

Paw Pals program helps local patients

Lending a helping paw : Home Hospice starts new volunteer group

TDI THERAPY DOGS are happy to help the children of Newtown to face a new school year!

Newtown Children and TDI Therapy Dogs return to School


2013 AKC ACE Award (Therapy Dogs) Winner

The winner of the 2013 AKC ACE Award (Therapy Dogs) is Drago, owned by Lauren Friedman. Here we see Drago (on left) enjoying his well-deserved time off with Siena, also a Therapy Dog!

Both dogs are registered with Therapy Dogs International

Congratulations to Lauren and Drago!!

Therapy Dog: "Drago," a Spinone Italiano owned by Lauren Friedman and Chris Sweetwood of Milford, Connecticut Drago, a "do-it-all" Spinone Italiano with more than 1,000 therapy visits to his credit, faced a challenge like no other in Newtown, Connecticut last December when his therapy skills were called upon after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lauren and Drago immediately headed to Newtown, a chaotic scene full of shell-shocked local residents. They spent nearly every day until January at the Crisis Center that was set up at Reed Intermediate School, providing love and support to those who needed it. Drago accompanied kids and adults into counseling sessions, and spent time with children who were doing crafts and activities while their parents were busy with chaplains and psychologists. Lauren and Drago still visit area schools today.


Below you will find a story about two cats lost in the rubble after the devastating tornado which hit Oklahoma on May 20th, 2013.

How come we post a story about cats? Well ...

Here it goes:

TDI responded in Oklahoma after the tornado of May 20th. This was a combined effort of our DSR teams and our regular therapy dog teams.

Part of our agenda was to walk through the streets of the destroyed Moore, past the destroyed Plaza Towers Elementary School with it's memorials put up on a fence. Our dogs were able to work with many people. As we were walking single file with our dogs past the destroyed houses to work with people who were working on their property digging through the rubble or bringing rubble to the curb, all of a sudden we heard this voice coming from one of the destroyed houses. We stopped and walked back and met Joe, see photos below. While he was petting our dogs he told us the story of his two cats. I found this story so moving like so many we heard. This one we can publish since his daughter sent it to us. Please see below....

Buster and Sweetie
Survival Story, May 20th Tornado
Moore, Oklahoma
By: Cindy Walter

My family and I live across the street from what was Plaza Towers Elementary School. The school and all the homes and neighborhood around it was destroyed in the May 20th EF5 tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma. The storm was over a mile wide and packed circulating winds over 250 miles per hour. It was on the ground for 17 miles and left a path of destruction described by many as a war zone. Twenty-four people died, including 7 children at Plaza Towers, and countless others were injured, including pets.

My family and I own two cats, Buster and Sweetie. Buster is large brown tabby striped male and Sweetie is an average black and white tabby marked female. They are both loving of family but very skittish of strangers. Before the storm Sweetie had been suffering from some digestive issues and generally did not seem to be in great health. We feared that she did not survive the storm that crippled our home and that Buster had run from the premises at the first chance.

We called animal shelters, turned in all the forms that we were asked to fill out and even set a cat trap provided by our local animal shelter, tempting them with tuna and fish flavored canned cat food. Our cats never took the bait of the food in the trap, actually avoiding it completely and leaving it untouched where it had been set. Neighbors told us that they had seen cats resembling ours in the area around our destroyed home so we held out hope that at least one of them was alive.

Three days after the storm and once we were allowed to go inside the structure to start trying to pull any salvageable belongings, we spotted Sweetie. She dove from an area where volunteers were shuffling things around, ran into our hallway, paused, looked wide-eyed at my dad and me, then bolted into our bathroom. Our wonderful volunteers concentrated many efforts on our bathroom after the sighting but to no avail. She simply wasn’t being found and certainly not by strangers.

On this night before we left what we have affectionately deemed our “pile” my dad set a can of cat food by the opening of what used to be our back door. The following day this cat food was gone, can and all. A day later we returned to the pile and found the can, back in the spot where we’d left it and empty. Someone had eaten the food and placed the can out as if asking for more. This was progress and gave us hope that maybe both cats were alive and in the pile. That day we found our electric can opener. The opener was missing a tiny piece but still worked, making the same distinctive buzzing noise that our cats associated with tuna juice, a special treat that they only got once in a while. We wondered if this familiar sound would bring them out of their hiding places.

That night the authorities in our neighborhood began allowing people to break the strict nine o’clock p.m. curfew that had been enforced. It had been six days since the storm and since we had seen either of our cats. We were willing to try anything. So when it was dark outside, and the neighbors started leaving my dad grabbed the can opener and we made our way to the back door of the pile.

A few buzzes of the can opener and Buster popped his head out of a pile and walked toward us. When he was close enough and seemed calm enough I scooped him up and loved on him, taking a cross-legged seat on the filthy floor of what was our kitchen. Crying tears of joy I talked softly to him and hugged him and loved on him like I hadn’t in a while. My dad went around the front of the house and spoke with a National Guardsmen about possibly lending him a hand by way of a flashlight.

By the time he headed back toward the front of the house, I had made my way around there with Buster and was going to put him in our pick-up. However, in the darkness, not knowing who my dad was, he became spooked and struggled out of my protective grasp and back into the pile. I was hysterical, fearing that he’d never come back out for us and I’d be without my pets for even longer. My dad was undeterred and pressed on, back around to the back of the house. Several minutes later, with the National Guardsmen right behind him, he emerged with my Buster.

His next task was to find Sweetie, who is unequivocally and irrevocably, his cat. She loves everything about him. Since the last place we’d seen her was when she disappeared into the bathroom he started there. Whirring the can opener several times, and finally sitting down inside the bathroom he heard her faint little mew. He began talking to her and whirring the can opener and meowing back and forth with her and finally she emerged. She was close but he could tell still very shaken. He was afraid if he moved toward her, she would bolt again so he waited until she came right to him then he scooped her up and brought her out of the pile.

Back at our rent house, and finally settled in, we are all one big happy family again, with an extra furry reunion to be proud of.


It just has to be said! There are many TDI volunteers who work behind the scenes. They are the kind of volunteers which make our organization so successful. These volunteers not only work with their Therapy Dogs to bring joy to so many people, they are doing something else to further our work. We do have a column, Paws-Up, in our Newsletter, but we want to share this with everyone! They are the unsung heroes! With their work they make it possible for our volunteers to be where they are needed. Therefore, from now on we will continue to list these volunteers on our Social Media Pages under Super-Paws!

Lauren Friedman, TDI Evaluator-----------for re-evaluating each and every registered TDI DOG prior to being permitted to visit in the schools of Newtown. Countless hours are spent on traveling and re-evaluating the potential volunteers.

Karen Haney-----------for the scheduling of all the TDI volunteers who visit on a continuing daily basis in some of the schools in Newtown. Scheduling with the schools and the volunteers, informing volunteers of all the visiting opportunities and cheering them on takes a very special person and is a tremendous amount of work.

TDI has made a commitment to the people of Newtown. We are there for you with our Therapy Dogs as long as we are needed and wanted.

For more information about our special TDI work and photos of all the dogs volunteering in Newtown, please click here


What is a Therapy Dog?

A Therapy Dog is a dog with an outstanding temperament

A Therapy Dog tolerates other animals

A Therapy Dog wants to visit with people

A Therapy Dog loves children

A Therapy Dog gets along with other dogs

Why Don't Therapy Dogs
Wear Vests?



Therapy Dogs are to be petted, and vests cut down on the petting area.  Additionally, the use of vests can confuse a Therapy Dog with a Service Dog.


A TDI Therapy Dog on Visits is
Identified by:

A TDI Bandana

A current TDI ID Tag

A flat buckle collar or simple harness

A current TDI ID Card