Therapy Dog Stories

Therapy Dog Stories.

Many people are a little disappointed if their pup doesn't follow the Guide Dog career pathway but at Guide Dogs, we believe that every dog's chosen pathway is important and we're committed to empowering every dog to live its best life. Our Therapy Dogs find themselves in all sorts of different roles in all sorts of different environments and wherever possible, we like to share their stories with those who participated in their early years. So please, take a few minutes to read about the way in which these special dogs are enriching the lives of their new humans.

May 2024: Olive


We wanted to share a bit of our family’s experience having the beautiful and fun Olive, who is 1.5 years old. She is a bubble of joy and play – recently surpassing her record of two toys in her mouth during fetch to a whole 3!

She loves to curl up and sleep at night with our daughter Arati who is nearly 8 years old, and has Autism and ADHD, also Anxiety Disorder. Having a companion and also a therapy dog has been helpful to her in so many ways – not only have we seen her light up every day when she sees Olive after some time away from home, but she enjoys helping Olive as part of her daily chores with feeding, grooming, and training. Arati also has had Olive come to her aid several times when she was upset, with some gentle licks and attentive care across her sweet face.

She is getting to know our routine and adjusting well. She has joined Arati at psychology and in her after school love for obstacle courses and aerials/acrobatics on the lawn, and is often joining me cozy under my desk when working from home.

She has been a wonderful addition to our family as well – providing the parents much needed focus on others in the home during chores or work, and giving all of us a better reason to get outside and keep moving, and a reason to get excited to get up and out the door so we can fit in an adventure before work or school. She is well-behaved, incredibly smart and perceptive (curious too!), and a nurturing and lively spirit to have in our family. We love going to the doggy park to throw the ball, then coming home to throw some more, and to cuddle up and be together when we take much needed recharge breaks cozy at home. Thank you for the gift of Olive in our life. She is a joy and a treasure, and perfect for us.

A yellow Labrador is licking the face of a young girl who is playing a tile game.
A young girl and a yellow Labrador playing games at a park.
A yellow Labrador curled up on a fluffy bed under a desk.

February 2024: Juniper & Opal

Juniper and Opal's mum writes: We got beautiful Juniper 2 years ago for my daughter who has autism. He has been amazing, such a gentle, obedient, loving dog. Juni assists with calming [my daughter] down by helping her regulate her sensory overload. He does this by deep pressure, laying on her and also patting him (texture). His company helps her in transitions such as get dressed and being picked up from school. Juni has also been amazing support for me. He was great company while I was recovering from brain surgery and help me calm down when anxious. We recently added beautiful opal to our family to support me as I suffer bad anxiety and PTSD. Taking them out for a walk is really helpful to me as it actually motivates me to leave the house. Also makes it easier to say hello to people and have a conversation. They both love lying in bed and watching movies with [my daughter] and I every night. This helps [my daughter] to go to sleep! We are very grateful to Guide Dogs, the puppy raisers and the Therapy Dog team for these two beautiful dogs ❤️. They have been very beneficial to our lives.
A collage of 9 images of a young girl with yellow Labradors.
A collage of 9 images of a young girl with a yellow Labrador.

November 2023: Nelson

June 23, 2023 is a day that Nelson's new mum says, "we will never forget!" because that is the day he became part of their family. (She also adds that he is now the cutest member of the family!) Nelson immediately won the hearts of 9-year-old Alec and 7-year-old Lola, both of whom have been diagnosed with autism. Alec, who is described by his mum as a "germophobe" immediately, and with no sign of anxiety, gave Nelson a big hug and is now responsible for picking up after Nelson's Quick-Quicks! Lola is shy, predominantly non-verbal and struggles to establish eye-contact but mum reports that she too has made great progress since Nelson's arrival. She has been working with her therapist on sharing and was able to begin sharing toys with Nelson within 2 weeks. This was a huge step for Lola. Sleeping is also a challenge for Lola due to the effects of her medications but Nelson has the answer to this dilemma too, and, on hearing Lola crying in her bedroom one night, ran upstairs and climbed onto the bed with her. Lola's crying immediately turned into "a cheeky little smile." Now, if she cannot see Nelson in her room at bedtime, this little girl who ordinarily struggles to speak even one word in a day, will ask "Where is Nelson?" and has also been observed singing The Wiggles' song "Wags the Dog" to him. Lola's Speech Therapist is cleverly using Nelson to help her to learn about "Wh" questions and conversations like the following can be heard in the therapy room: “Who is that?” “Nelson” “Where is Nelson?” “In the room" “What is Nelson doing?” “Drinking water” Lola always giggles when she looks at Nelson and tries to find out what he is up to. Alec, Lola and Nelson's mum says "There is so much joy Nelson has brought to our home... He is an angel (and more) ... Thanks to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, his amazing trainer Ceridwen and family, and generous sponsor(s), Lola and Alec now have a loyal and perfect companion." Well done, Nelson! We are so proud of you.
Alec & Nelson.
Lola singing to Nelson.
Lola sharing with Nelson.
Time for a walk!

August 2023: Sharyn, aka Scout

Sharyn joined the team at Centennial Park School, a high school for students with special needs, in July and we're delighted to share this update provided by Assistant Principal Ravi Rao who has the privilege of taking Sharyn home each day: "Sharyn is continuing to settle in very well. She is perfect for our school. The students love her and she has already begun to be beneficial in a therapeutic sense. I've had her with me several times when students have been upset, Sharyn has helped them regulate and get back into the regular school routine. She has been getting a solid 90 minutes of exercise during the school day, so she is pretty tired by evening but we have been going to the park and playing with other dogs. Thanks again for Sharyn. She really is a great addition to the school and personally I am so happy to have her as my dog."
A yellow Labrador wearing an orange coat is sitting up on the grass looking directly at the camera.
A yellow Labrador is lying on the grass with its paw extended towards a Staffy pup.
A sleeping yellow Labrador is curled up on a blue blanket.

June 2023: Rhonda

Rhonda joined the Canine Court Companion Program at Campbelltown Court, where she volunteers every Thursday, in September 2022. Canine Court Companion Program dogs are carefully selected to support victims of crime by providing a sense of calm and companionship to ease the stress often associated with court visits. To the untrained eye, Rhonda is just your average Labrador, but handler Ian says that she knows that it's court day when her special collar and coat come out, and that as soon as she is in her uniform, Rhonda "is like a different pup." A typical court day begins with some warm-up training in the park opposite the court, followed by a visit with the court workers and Sheriffs. Rhonda then heads up to the waiting room where she leads Ian to anyone she perceives might benefit from pats and cuddles. Ian asks the court user if they would like to visit with Rhonda and when they say "yes", Rhonda "does her magic"! Ian says, "Since I’ve started doing this I have seen how someone who one minute was thinking the world was going collapse on them to [the next minute] being happy and more positive; all this from a beautiful young puppy, Rhonda, rubbing up to them, sitting in front of them, and getting pats." After court Rhonda likes to have a treat and then a little cool-down training session. She also goes and visits the local police station to bring some smiles to the officers' faces. When she's not at court, Rhonda has a busy social life and brings smiles to folks wherever she goes. Some notable people she has met include the Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner of Police and the USA Women's Rugby 7's team!
A black Labrador sitting on a step in front of an A-frame sign advertising the Canine Court Companion Program.

April 2023: Perry

Therapy Dog Perry's new mum recently sent us an update to share with everyone involved in his journey so far, to let us know that he is living his best life! Perry was placed with his new BFF, a little girl called Ivy, in April 2021. Ivy lives with low vision caused by a genetic disorder and gets around with the use of a cane.  Her mum reports that having Perry in the home is a pleasure and that he and Ivy have formed a very special bond. Perry's duties include providing cuddles after school, helping Ivy to feel comfortable and safe when she is out and about, and helping Ivy to sleep through the night by snuggling up to her in bed. He also makes sure he is there to provide support (more cuddles on the floor) when Ivy feels overwhelmed or anxious, so much so that Ivy's mum calls cuddles on the floor with Perry Ivy's "safe place". Perry also enjoys the attention he gets from Ivy's older siblings and is slowly getting used to her new baby sister, making sure he always sits close to whomever is holding her. Ivy's mum says "We have been so blessed to have Perry join our family and couldn’t imagine our life without him. Ivy has grown and developed so many coping skills when out and at home with the thanks to Perry. He is absolutely amazing and we thank his Puppy Raisers for this amazing dog. We are truly blessed." Thank you and well done to everyone who had a hand in raising and training this gorgeous boy, and well done, Perry! We just knew you had it in you!

March 2023: Ferris

Ferris started work as the school Therapy Dog at St John XXIII Catholic College in September 2021. We are pleased to share this update on his work, written by a member of the school community: "Ferris has been a part of our school community for almost 2yrs now. He has had such a positive impact on the kids' and staff's wellbeing and happiness. Ferris greets students and staff every morning when he does his daily walk around the school grounds and brightens everyone’s day. After his walk he has a short rest, then breakfast, and then he is on to helping support the students in therapy sessions, visiting the classroom for reward time and having younger students read the stories they have written. Ferris helps the older students to put their skills to use in the real world, building him a kennel, and making him event bandannas and healthy puppy snacks. Ferris's specialty is making people feel calm and relaxed while bringing a smile to their face. Ferris has a few special friends that he visits for special treats including the Principal. Even if the door is shut and the Principal is in a meeting Ferris will nudge the door to let him know he is ready to have his treats. The Principal will pause his meetings and introduce Ferris. We love Ferris and he beings so much joy to our school community.
A yellow Labrador sitting up on carpet looking at the camera. In the background a child's hand can be seen holding up a picture they have drawn of the dog wearing a bandanna.
A group of children in sports uniforms is arranged in a semi-circle with a young yellow Labrador in the centre.
A yellow Labrador sitting on the floor beside a young girl who is holding up a picture she has drawn.