Meet Eli, The Physical Therapy Golden Retriever; Noah's New Best Friend

physical therapy dog golden retriever down syndrome

One of the things I really like about Our Children’s House Baylor (Where Noah receives his developmental therapy) is the creative ways they work with children.

Today they brought in an awesome golden retriever therapy dog for the children to play with. And as you can see, it looks like Noah has a new best friend!

I wonder if I convince my wife to let us get a golden receiver for Noah to play with now…… 🙂

What sorts of creative activities does your child’s therapist do?

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About Rick Smith

Hi, I'm Noah's Dad and I'm passionate about giving the world a window into our life as we raise our son who was born with Down syndrome. I also enjoy connecting with other families, so let's stay connected.


  1. they are so lovely!!!

  2. maddie jacobs says

    i have goldens now theya re great dogs ours sleeps with ryan at night they stay with him n when aimee is here she cna pull their ears n tail n they just hang with it i think noah would love a golden n it would love him n help him lots . i say go for it daddy .

  3. I saw a golden retriever therapy dog interact with a child with Ds many years ago, and the image has always stuck with me. I’ve tried to convince Jon we need to get a golden retriever, but he isn’t going for it. Our therapy place, Hope Landing, is currently offering training for dogs who want to be certified therapy dogs. This is the first time they’ve done it, so I look forward to when they start using the dogs in therapy. James adores dogs.

    • Wow, that’s cool that they provide training for the dogs!

      Yah, I think I’m in the same boat as you. I don’t think Abbie’s going for it either. 🙂

  4. Patty O. says

    We have a golden and Patrick(our grandson) likes, but doesn’t love – her. He is a little intimidated by her face baing right up to his, but he is getting used to her as he gets older. Goldens are such awesome and gentle. Casey is our second Golden and I never worry about her getting agressive with the kids. What specifically do they do with the dog in therapy?

    • Sounds like you guys have a lot of fun with your pets! As far as what they do in therapy they pretty much just play with them (at least in Noah’s case.) Petting them, cuddling, etc. I think this week Noah’s going to try to throw a ball and have the dog fetch it.

      How old is Patrick?

  5. When will Noah be done with pt? I don’t remember my brother doing much of that? I’m sure things have changed, my brother is 44.

    • Hi Lori. I’m not sure when Noah will be done with physical therapy to be honest. We all just sort of take things 1 day at a time.

      And you’re right, things have change a lot since your brother was born, but that’s the case with everything I think. 🙂

      What’s your brother up to these days? What sorts of things does he like to do for fun?

  6. Hi noah’s dad,
    I found your blog over at Love that max and i’m wondering on the top picture what is the thing coming off his head? I am sorry if i sound rude i am just curious.

    • Hi! Thanks for checking out our blog! And don’t worry, I don’t think you’re rude. We welcome all questions here.

      But I’m not sure what you mean in regard to the picture. There’s nothing coming off his head, nor do I see anything coming off his head. Maybe I’m missing something. Are you talking about the picture with the therapy dog?

  7. No the old header picture

  8. Annette33 says

    A golden retriever would be great, and you could train it to be a therapy dog for your son. When people offer to bring their awesome pets to my classroom, I always say yes. Of course, I have to get clearance with the principal, and make sure the pet is friendly. We mostly have dogs visit, even a three legged one once. The local vet visits the science class with handicapped animals that live at the office. I will be getting them to come next year! Once I had an unwanted visitor. My student brought his pet rat, in his pocket. The student ended up in the office, because he wasn’t paying attention. After a 30 minute discussion, parent included, that is when we found the rat, lol. No wonder he wasn’t paying attention! I regress, Noah needs a dog!

  9. Hi Rick and Noah….First I love your website…..I have two adopted kids w/Down syndrome,16 Hannah & 13 Jordan,,, as Hannah would say ” I have up syndrome because I’am to up to be down”

    Hannah & Jordan both have Therapy Golden Retrievers that spend 3 days a week , all day in their classroom.They absolutely love her…Also from a young age both kids did a horse therapy class for a few years which they loved, & went on to private lessons. Hannah has ribbons & cash awards from horse events….I started Down Right Beautiful in my County, a gathering for family & friends to share about Down Syndrome…Our Buddy walk was amazing, great helpers, friends, families,& meeting all of our beautiful kids !!!….Your doing an awesome website !!!

    • Wow Barbara. It sounds like you are doing some really great things. I love hearing that.

      How long ago did you adopt your children with Down syndrome? Where are they from, and do you guys have any other children?

  10. Rick, in terms of the header, he may mean Noah’s ear. If you look at it, the cropping around that area is rough and it — know I say this with affection and amusement — looks for like an alien antenna than a human, anatomical part. You also have some residual blue off to the left. If I may offer a topic, it would be to a) crop off his ear completely — due to the angle of the photo, it will be difficult to get exactly right and b) look into feather cropping. This adds a nice, smooth touch around the edges.

    And awesome about the therapy dog. Assistance dogs of all kinds — service, hearing, seeing, therapy — are wonderful. As someone who has mobility troubles (Childhood-onset RA), I am in the process of getting a service dog and am super excited about that! My hope is that, eventually, I can get him dually certified as a therapy dog, so (s)he can help others in the moments when (s)he is not working for me. I know many who have done this, as well.

    — Photoshop geek 😉

  11. Agh. Corrections:

    *he, the poster who questioned about what was coming out of Noah’s head

    *looks more like an alien antenna than a human, anatomical part

    *if I may offer a suggestion

  12. We were at Yale yesterday to meet with our pulminary Dr. for some follow up from our sleep study with little Ava Skye and a volunteer came around with her dog a cockapoo. She does rounds every other day to make the kids smile. Even made little 6 week old Ava smile! Dogs truly are mans best friend! Also had our 3 rd physical therapy session today and 2nd cranial sacral appointment today. Little Ava is becoming more and more active. Best wishes to all of you!

  13. We have a small dog – a cockapoo. We had the dog before Treyton was born and he is great with our son. Our neighbors have 2 golden retrievers and they are both excellent dogs as well. If I were to choose a dog for Treyton it would very likely be a retriever.

  14. We have a golden retriever. Her name is KC. She is so good with all of the kids. Levi loves her.

  15. Levi just turned 9 months. He is learning to sit in p.t. Next week we start on the treadmill. We think the picture of Noah on the top of web page is great. It shows off his awesome blue eyes.

  16. How fun is that!!! We’re thinking of getting our Noah a service dog to keep him from wandering. A golden retriever would be perfect! Hey, maybe if you look into a service dog for your Noah, Mama Bear might go for it.


  17. It’s always nice to have a dog in the house. I have a 4-year cousin with Down Syndrome and once I took to my uncle’s house a Mini Pin I used to have, and it was good to see how quick the kid was already messing around the floor with the dog, my uncle got somehow surprised due to all the excitement of the boy. Believe me, a dog can help your son to develop social skills better than any psychologist. By the way, I’d suggest you to also consider a Boxer instead of a Golden Retriever.

  18. do you know where i can look to get training for a dog to become a therapy dog. we are a huge dog loving family and I would love to teach one of our dogs or for when we get another one.

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