Each breed of dog officially recognized by any one of the numerous Kennel Clubs around the world was created for a particular job, like pulling sleds, herding sheep, or hunting vermin. While many of the original dog jobs still exist, others have gradually been phased out, often substituted by some type of competition that represents the original purpose for which a particular dog was bred. The dogs, however, don't know that many of their skills are no longer needed in a traditional sense and many are just bursting at the seams to perform some kind of work.
Dogs today are "employed" in a variety of activities, creatively using the skills bred into them for their original purpose in new contexts. Norwich terriers are no different. Yes, there are still many Norwich used for ratting and hunting small vermin, but not all Norwich owners are hunters or have a barn that needs ratting. Norwich owners, however, have found that these spunky little dogs are thrilled at directing all their intelligence and energy towards other venues, one of the most rewarding being pet therapy.
A therapy dog is essentially a dog trained to give love to people for the scope of healing; therapy dogs work in nursing homes, hospitals, schools, mental institutions, and other areas characterized by people living in pain or under stress. It has been noted time and time again that petting a dog, observing a dog playing, and even just the presence of a dog does wonders for a person's mental and physical health. Dogs working as therapy dogs have been rigorously tested and accredited by recognized organizations.
Traditionally, dogs such as Golden Retrievers and Labradors have been used in these settings, though more and more breeds, both purebred and not, have demonstrated the ability to love and heal. Norwich terriers are among those dogs rising up through the ranks of therapy dogs. They are extremely friendly and love people, which is an essential requirement in this line of work. They are very flexible and adapt well to a multitude of situations and though they are determined, they are also very gentle. They do well around children, so they can be used in schools and in children's hospitals. A well trained Norwich can also perform a wide variety of tricks, adding to their entertainment value.
Norwich are very clever and have a great sense of humor and their antics bring a smile to everyone's face. They are among some of the cutest dogs and both children and adults are naturally attracted to them. The small size of the Norwich also seems to be a point in its favor; even children and adults that are normally afraid of dogs tend to be less fearful around these small canines, though Norwich have strong enough personalities to not themselves be afraid of people.