While we might think of ‘pet therapy’ as a modern concept, it has a very long history.  Reports suggest that pet therapy was initially used in a mental health facility in the 1700s and then re-emerged in the treatment of military veterans during and after World War II.  There are many anecdotal and scientific reports that document the value of contact with pets for improving physical and psychological symptoms.


A therapy dog’s primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact with it and to enjoy that contact. Children in particular enjoy hugging animals; adults usually enjoy simply petting the dog.  Many dogs contribute to the visiting experience by performing small tricks for their audience or by playing carefully structured games.” From Wikipedia


Dr. D’Antonio raises and trains Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs. She has used her dogs in her clinical speech therapy with many children.  She introduces a therapy dog when appropriate for increasing a child’s desire to communicate or as a reinforcer for participation in difficult therapy activities.  She also routinely uses her therapy dogs in local library reading programs for children.