Joanne George, who runs the dog-training service Training the K9 Way, rescued Smiley and immediately saw something special in him. "People were so drawn to him, so inspired by him,” she told CBS News. "I realized this dog has to be a therapy dog, I have to share him."
Smiley got certified and began working in nursing and retirement homes, as well as paying visits kids with mental and physical disabilities at the library for reading sessions.
"Dogs can come back from anything, they forget their past," Joanne says. "We as humans, dwell on the past." She uses Smiley to teach people not to let their disabilities define them.
Here’s just one of hundreds of stories of how Smiley has touched someone’s life: Smiley met a man named Teddy in a nursing home who had no speech and seemed completely unable to communicate.
"One day, Smiley put his feet up in front of [Teddy],” Joanne recalls. “He started smiling and making noise. All of the nurses rushed into the room and said they've never seen him smile, never seen any kind of reaction." Now, Teddy is the first person Smiley sees when he visits.