Looking back…………..

Once upon a time, starting in the late Eighties and early Nineties the idea of using therapy dogs in health care facilities which was started in 1976 in New Jersey drew the interest and attention of many. It was studied, copied and used as their own. This not only happened inside the US, but also members of other countries used what we did and built upon it and made it their own. In all fairness, the original idea of having animals residing in nursing homes was observed by Elaine Smith while working abroad as a nurse in England for one year. Elaine Smith, was the one who talked a group of us, dog obedience competitors, into visiting with her in a nursing home. At the time of course we did not realize the impact this first visit in 1976 eventually would have on humanity.

After a difficult beginning the idea became more of a reality. Articles were written, studies were being done. By now our work had caught the attention of many. TDI had spread starting in the late eighties to Canada and was testing and registering the Canadian dog/handler teams. Building up our organization was our foremost mission at the time. Our system was in effect. Eventually one of our certified evaluators from Canada took the idea to an ambulance system, made it his own and split from TDI. There was nothing we could and can do about this type of practice. What was happening then is still happening now. We who were the originators of bringing therapy dog handler teams into health care facilities have given our knowledge we have gained and therefore brought it to humanity. It is used in many parts of the world, the joy of visiting therapy dogs wherever they are needed.

In the Nineties Representatives from Japan came to the US to study our methods. Sometimes groups of Japanese tourists made appointments with us to observe our therapy dog handler teams how we worked in nursing homes and hospitals. Individuals as well came to our office to find out more about our idea.

The idea of therapy dogs is now used in many countries. We who have laid the foundation have made it possible for millions to understand and experience the joy of what it means to benefit from the all encompassing love of dogs!

Saving Lives-Oxygen Masks for Pets

Debbie Willis with the help of Jazz TDIA, DSR is shown teaching Firefighters and other First Responders how to correctly apply an oxygen mask. Many times oxygen masks for dogs and cats are donated to EMS systems by the generosity of various companies.

Little Dude


Myrra Bella




Sawyer and Aubrey



Maxi Max




Sonny Daze

Sonny Daze






Sonny Daze


Why We Are TDI Members

By: Annette Smith

Last Tuesday during our weekly visit to the local hospice residence, I discovered why my TDI dog, Nicky Bella, and I are committed to these visits. In the hallway I stopped to chat with a family member who mentioned that her Mom had been an avid dog lover, and would have loved to have seen Nicky Bella. Unfortunately, she had just received the Last Rites, was in a coma, and was surrounded by her family members.

Nicky and I went into the room, and after talking about Nicky for a while, I noticed that this woman had slightly opened her eyes. I pulled a chair up to the bed, and had Nicky get on it. The comatose patient actually reached up and gave Nicky a little pet before closing her eyes, and sinking back into her deep sleep. The family members were beside themselves. They couldn’t believe what they had just witnessed. I still get choked up when I think about this.

Nicky Bella, a dog that was rescued off the streets at 6 months of age, and then sat in a kennel for 3 years, is now giving so much to so many. She does a weekly Tail Waggin' Tutors program with a 4th grade and a local library, tags along while I help transport wheel chairs for a weekly church service at our County Nursing home (and of course has to visit with everyone along the way), regularly visits other nursing homes, a drug treatment program and will be adding a soon-to-be-opened assisted living home. Of course she attends Sunday Services and sits on the altar with the choir.

These Therapy Dogs give so much to so many, and I have no doubt that upon crossing the Rainbow Bridge, they will take their rightful place at the foot of our Lord in Heaven!

TDI In The News

Another First for Therapy Dogs International (TDI)

The author, left, smiles as Ambassador Robert F. Godec presents Forest with his honorary embassy badge at an awards ceremony in Nairobi.

Forest, a German Shepherd Dog, registered with Therapy Dogs International, has been declared an honorary member of the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. He is the US State Department's first "therapy dog".

Please follow the link to the article about this wonderful TDI team.

Paws That Refresh

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