Meet Cynthia Hinckley
In 1992, I made my first visit with my therapy dog Beatrice and I haven’t stopped visiting since. What happened that day was a defining moment in my life. Since then, eight of my dogs have been therapy dogs and together we have made over 30,000 visits to hospitals, nursing homes, Alzheimer’s units, psychiatric facilities, hospice, and specialized programs for children. In 2004, determined to encourage more people and their dogs to become involved in this work, and to open more doors to healthcare and educational facilities, I founded Bright Spot Therapy Dogs, Inc. One decade later, Bright Spot had spread from a small western Massachusetts therapy dog organization to one that trains and certifies therapy dog teams throughout New England and has requests from over 175 healthcare and educational facilities.
I enjoy teaching workshops and training classes to dog owners interested in learning the skills and techniques needed to visit with their dogs in healthcare and educational environments bringing comfort and companionship to those in need. In addition, I am a frequent speaker for civic organizations interested in learning about the work of therapy dogs and was the keynote speaker for the MSPCA’s Happy Endings charitable event in 2001. Also in 2001, I received the MSPCA Gus Thornton Award for helping seniors in the community through visits with my therapy dogs. In the fall of 2010, I was overjoyed to be the recipient of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors Good Neighbor Award for my work in the community with therapy dogs. Currently, I am the executive director of Bright Spot Therapy Dogs, Inc. and editor of The Bright Spot News. My articles about therapy dogs have appeared in The American Kennel Club Gazette, The English Setter Association of America Magazine, and Fido Loves. I have just completed work on a memoir about my twenty-four year experience working with therapy dogs and am seeking representation from a literary agent.
The hardest thing we face when living and working with dogs is losing them. They never, ever live long enough. I had been thinking about starting a blog for quite some time to write about my therapy dogs and the meaningful visits we make together. When my Julia died in December 2010, very suddenly and without warning, her passing prompted me to get started.
When I write about our visits, I never mention the name of a specific facility nor do I use the real name of a patient. To protect the privacy of patients, any name used is fictitious. Additionally, any photo containing a person or dog, other than my own, has had a release form signed.