History of Therapy Dogs

Fueled by a desire to bring smiles to sick and injured children at Fletcher Allen Healthcare (FAHC) in Burlington, Vermont, Steve Reiman put his love for kids…and dogs…to work.

He obtained special permission from the Life Specialists in Fletcher Allen Health Care’s pediatric ward to bring his German Shepherd into the hospital, and on Good Friday, 1990, Steve and “Lily” paid their first visit to the kids. Seeing the children’s faces light up, Steve knew this was the beginning of something even bigger. In 1992, Steve founded Therapy Dogs of Vermont, which has since grown into a 200-member organization that evaluates, trains, and places therapy dog/owner teams with clients and facilities throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and even parts of Canada.

The 501(c)(3) nonprofit gained national attention recently when it was featured on “Oprah’s Big Give” in 2008.