Kids can Benefit from Therapy Dog Visits

Kids can Benefit from Therapy Dog Visits

Today’s Parent Tip of the Week is brought to
you by Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center

Lucy has been coming to Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center since October 2014. Lucy arrives at therapy with lots of energy. With a wag of her tail, therapy clients are just as happy to see Lucy as she is to see her “clients.”

That’s right, Lucy is a dog. Lucy, CHSC’s first therapy dog, and her handler, Beth, come twice a month to visit clients at the center. Lucy has a busy schedule while she is at CHSC — she participates in the school-age reading group and the fluency group. Lucy is always ready to listen and does not judge anyone’s reading or speaking abilities.

Michelle Foye, director of Speech, Language and Learning Services, has seen a dramatic increase in her reading clients’ willingness to practice assigned tasks at home so that they are prepared to read to Lucy when she comes for a visit.

Raymond said, “I like reading to Lucy because she is a good listener and she is nice.”

Teresa said, “I like Lucy’s cute little face and reading books to her.”

Lucy also visits with the fluency group so that they can practice using their fluency strategies. Maggie Cifra, a CHSC Speech Language Pathologist, commented, “It really helps the kids feel at ease and decreases anxiety that they may have about their own communication skills. It is comforting for them to know that they have Lucy as a companion who will listen and not judge them if they stutter. They also love petting Lucy, learning about her, and watching Lucy give ‘high fives’ for a treat from Beth.”

Lucy is certified through Therapy Dogs International (TDI). In order for a dog to be certified as a therapy dog with TDI, the dog must pass the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Test, pass a TDI temperament evaluation, and the dog’s handler must submit yearly updated health record forms signed by a licensed veterinarian.

To learn more about speech therapy with Lucy, and other speech therapy programs for children, contact Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center at 216-231-8787 or visit

— By Michelle Foye, MA CCC-SLP, director of Speech, Language and Learning Services at Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center

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