A Therapy Dog, not to be confused with a Service Dog, provides therapy and comfort to people other than their handlers. Service dogs are trained to perform certain tasks and ease their handlers’ disabilities.

Oreo, a Therapy Dog, who we met recently in New Jersey at one of our Pet Photo Shoot Fundraisers, provides comfort to the various places he and his handler visit. Oreo is unique because he is also deaf and his handler communicates with him using sign language.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Vanderhoof, Oreo’s Owner and Handler

“We adopted him [Oreo] directly from a family but worked with Happy Tails in West Milford, New Jersey on the adoption. He came to us untrained, yellow from the hips down because he was in a crate all the time and his nails were all curled on themselves. They didn’t know how to train a deaf dog and just kept him in a crate”, Lisa Vanderhoof, Oreo’s Handler told us. 

“He absolutely loves what he does. He picks up on people’s personalities and just seems very intuitive to what they need. If he is working with someone who is anxious, he will just lay with them and calm them down. Even though he can’t hear, he loves going to the libraries and having children work on their reading skills. When he is at nursing homes, he goes to each person to get pets and scratches. Oreo’s tail never stops wagging and he always has a huge smile!”

Photo courtesy of Lisa Vanderhoof, Oreo’s Owner and Handler

Oreo and Lisa are a Certified Pet Therapy Team with Creature Comfort Pet Therapy, which is an organization that trains and certifies handlers and dogs to become Therapy Dogs. Together, they visit hospitals, nursing homes and schools. He also has his Canine Good Citizen Certification.

“We were called to a school where a teacher had passed away. They brought in therapy dogs to release some of the stress for the students and staff. One girl in particular stayed with Oreo the whole time. They laid down together and she just kept petting him and loving on him. As we were leaving, a staff member came up to us and said she couldn’t believe how well the girl did. It turns out she was the daughter of the teacher that passed away. The staff said they couldn’t believe how relaxed she was. They felt her stress release during the visit”, Lisa Vanderhoof told us about a recent Pet Therapy visit.

Photo courtesy of Lisa Vanderhoof, Oreo’s Owner and Handler

The Pet Photo Shoot Fundraiser, where we met Oreo, was also held for Creature Comfort Pet Therapy. Below is one of the many photos we captured of him and his glowing personality.