April 17, 7 p.m., at the Bixby Memorial Library, 258 Main St., in Vergennes, ABC-TV Channel 22 and Northfield Savings Bank will present Oprahs Big Give to Therapy Dogs of Vermont. During the evening attendees will meet a therapy dog team and hear a presentation by Deb DAgati Helfrich, vice president of Therapy Dogs of Vermont. Therapy Dogs of Vermont is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization of well-mannered, people-loving dogs and their handlers intent on improving the emotional health of people in a variety of settings. Helfrich will share the unique features of TDV that placed them in the position of being a recipient of Oprahs Big Give. The program is not open to four-legged companions; due to library restrictions, please leave your dogs at home. If you require a dog please call the library in advance. For additional information on this and other programs in the Bixby Librarys Third Thursday series, please contact the library at 802-877-2211. All Third Thursday events are free and open to the public. What is a therapy dog? According to Therapy Dogs International, the concept of a therapy dog is often attributed to Elaine Smith, an American who worked as a registered nurse for a time in England. Smith noticed how well patients responded to visits by a certain chaplain and his canine companion, a Golden Retriever. Upon returning to the United States in 1976, Smith started a program for training dogs to visit institutions. Over the years, health care professionals have noticed the therapeutic effect of animal companionship, such as relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, and raising spirits, and the demand for therapy dogs continues to grow. In recent years, therapy dogs have been enlisted to help children overcome speech and emotional disorders. The concept has widened to include other species, such as cats, rabbits, birds, ponies, etc. Therapy dogs come in all sizes, breeds and colors. The most important aspect of a therapy dog is temperament. A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident, at ease in all situations, and gentle. Therapy dogs must enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled, sometimes clumsily.