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Don & Stephanie Vaughan

Therapy Dog Instructors

Don and Stephanie are a husband-wife team with over 30 years of combined experience as Therapy Dog Instructors. Their hearts are with the giant breeds – rare mastiffs, in particular. They also focus on rescuing giants in need. Over the years, they have owned a Tosa Ken, also known as a Japanese mastiff; a rescued Saint Bernard; a rescued Great Dane mix; a rescued Neapolitan mastiff, sometimes referred to as an Italian mastiff; a rescued Dogue de Bordeaux, also known as a French mastiff (think Turner & Hooch); a rescued Irish Wolfhound, and most recently, they adopted another rescued Neapolitan mastiff (think Fang from Harry Potter).

Don and Stephanie began volunteering in animal-assisted activities with their Japanese mastiff, Majo, in 2002 through Therapy Dogs Inc., now known as Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD). Majo’s nine-year career focused on the elderly, with most of her visits in nursing homes. But in 2010, Majo started working at an adult detention center, the beginning of what would turn into a fulfilling new path for Don and Stephanie in the correctional system. Their second registered therapy dog, a rescued Saint Bernard named Gaag, worked for nearly five years with ATD, regularly visiting an adult detention center, a juvenile detention center and hospice patients. Napolean, their Bordeaux, visited for about a year at a number of correctional facilities in the area, including a juvenile detention facility, two area adult detention centers and a federal medical facility.

In August 2011, Don became a tester/observer with ATD, and in June 2016, he was elected to its Board of Directors. In July 2018, Don was elected ATD Treasurer. Theia, their current Neapolitan mastiff, is in training to hopefully become their next registered therapy dog.

Current Courses

  • 2-Day Therapy Dogs 101 Seminar View

Pet parent of

Theia Vesta

Neapolitan Mastiff

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