Vito the Therapy Dog Learns New Tricks

carol ford bio photo“Vito has become a requested regular in my office,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix dentistry office. “He has been trained as a therapy dog and calms people who might be stressed coming into the office,” she adds. Therapy dogs aren’t common in dental offices, but Phoenix is a dog-loving town, and Dr. Ford gets a lot of requests for a visit from Vito. The top 10 zip codes in Maricopa County have more than 45,300 registered dogs, with retrievers being the most popular breed. (Vito is a Golden Retriever).

So chances are, if you are a dog lover, you will not only love Vito, he will charm and distract you from the stress you brought into the office. “Daily stress from jobs, family issues, and the end of the year increase the perception of pain,” says Dr. Ford. But playing with Vito makes people’s stress melt and increases their laughter.

Vito, now two years old, is learning new tricks. When Dr. Ford points her finger and says, “Bang!” Vito collapses in mock-shot mode. “You can almost see him smiling, ready to try another trick,” says Dr. Ford.

Dogs are eager to please the people they love, and learning tricks is a way to get rewarded for a learned behavior. It’s the same for children and even adults. Brushing and flossing are learned behaviors, and while we may not do them eagerly, the reward—keeping our teeth in good condition and enjoying them for many years, is a benefit you won’t want to miss.

Next time you see Vito, check out his smile. Then smile back!

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