Why a therapy dog at SLPS?
In the 1960’s a child psychologist, Dr. Boris Levinson, noticed that his child patients were less resistant and anxious during therapy when his dog was involved in the sessions. This began what was then known as “pet therapy”. Since then there have been many studies done to assess the effectiveness of therapy dogs and even to study how therapy sessions impact the dogs involved. Not surprising to most dog lovers, the study found that therapy dogs aren’t stressed in their ‘work’, quite the contrary, in most cases they seem to really enjoy it.
The benefits of canine assisted intervention (CAI) are many and in the area of speech therapy can be tremendous. Studies have shown that therapy dogs are comforting as they can provide a happy distraction. This promotes relaxation, lowers anxiety, and can even reduce the initial resistance that can happen in therapy.
Studies have shown that children with autism who work with therapy dogs often displayed greater engagement of language and social interaction. Autistic children often relate better with animals than humans. This was wonderfully evident in a 2011 study that showed a 12yr old boy with autism whose engagement in therapy with a CAI was drastically different. There was an increase in smiling, physical contact, and less negative behaviors.
Canine assisted intervention has even been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. A study showed a reduction in inattention and an improvement in social skills. There was also the added benefit that parents of the children in this study reported significantly fewer behavioral problems over time. 
Enter “Bear Hug Ready To Speak”! This is the formal name of the newest addition to SLPS, but we know him as Grizz. Grizz comes from a world-renowned bloodline of Wirehaired Pointing Griffons. Grizz’s lineage has won awards around the world. Some have had books written about them while others have made the news for their therapeutic care. This is how Carla found their family.