Source: SC Psychological Enterprises Ltd.
It seems like every time that I write an article about therapy dogs or significant events in the history of therapy dogs I get a flurry of questions about which dog was the first therapy dog. That turns out to be a difficult question to answer.
One candidate comes from the 1960s, when a clinical psychologist formally described the use of a therapy dog to the American Psychological Association. This was done by Boris Levinson and it involved his golden retriever, Jingles, who was being used to assist children with autism. Prior to that, in the 19th century, there was Sigmund Freud’s Chow Chow, Jofi, who regularly attended his therapy sessions, but Freud never presented data on the effects that the dog had on patients to any scientific organization.
One contender for the first officially recognized therapy dog turns out to be a diminutive Yorkshire Terrier, who weighed only 4 pounds (1.8 kg) and stood 7 inches (180 mm) at the shoulder, named Smoky. However, before she became a therapy dog, she proved to be a battlefield hero.
Smoky’s origins are unknown. In 1944 she was discovered, full-grown, in an abandoned foxhole in the New Guinea jungle. Ultimately the soldier who was taking care of her found himself running out of money in a poker game, so he sold her to Corporal William Wynne, a photographer with the U.S. Air Force. She was purchased for two Australian pounds (which would be $6.44 in U.S. dollars). For the next two years, Smoky would be carried in Wynne’s backpack and would share his C rations. She would also accompany him on combat flights in the South Pacific. Ultimately she flew 12 air/sea rescue and photo reconnaissance missions with the fifth Air Force (and was awarded eight battle stars for this).
Smoky suffered through all