Founder, Director of Programs

Heidi Bonorato Service Dog Therapy Dog

Heidi Bonorato

Heidi Bonorato is the Founder-Owner of Giving Retriever, LLC.  She received her education from Bergin University of Canine Studies, the only accredited academic institution in the world solely dedicated to advanced canine education and research.


Prior to founding Giving Retriever, LLC she was a Service Dog Training Instructor at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where she assisted in the establishment of the Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program and co-authored the program’s Veteran Service Dog Training Curriculum. 


Heidi has written in publications for the Journal of Army Medicine on Animal-Assisted Therapy in addition to co-authoring occupational therapy research and case studies to substantiate the use of assistance dog training in the clinical environment. She has been featured in speaking engagements with Department of the Army and Pentagon officials on the benefits of service dogs in the therapeutic environment as well as Animal Planet documentaries on assistance dog training and early puppy education. 


She has trained numerous therapy and assistance dogs for disabled individuals including children, seniors and Veterans.  As a Canine-Integrated Therapy Provider, she currently provides programming in clinical, classroom and community environments.


Giving Retriever, LLC was established by combining the humbling experiences of parenthood, clinical therapeutic experience and over 25 years of dog training expertise.  Using proven strategies that incorporate the Therapeutic Application of Assistance Dog Training with the unconditional love and acceptance of the canine-human bond, Giving Retriever works collaboratively with Educators, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Speech-Language Pathologists, and Clinical Therapists with the special mission of strengthening our families and healing America’s most valuable assets, our children.

Canine Therapy Team

Irvine, Co-Founder

Service Dog Golden Retriever

Giving Retriever Irvine is a gentle, sensitive and intuitive Golden Retriever with extensive experience working in therapeutic environments. He was raised and trained at the Assistance Dog Institute where he was purpose-bred for Service Dog work.  He began his training with Early Puppy Education at just 3 weeks of age and has since learned over 90 different skills to assist in mitigating a person’s disability. 

He has worked with Disabled Children, At-Risk Teens and most recently the Wounded Warriors in the Service Dog Training Program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  His specialty skills include opening doors, turning on/off lights, retrieving dropped items and mentoring young Assistance Dog puppies.

Irvine is a co-founder of Giving Retriever, LLC and his role in the clinical setting is to facilitate the Therapeutic Application of Assistance Dog Training by teaching individuals the skills necessary to train Assistance Dogs.

When he is not at work, he enjoys chasing a tennis ball, hiking, swimming and sharing snacks with our children.


Irvine retired from the Giving Retriever Program in 2017.  He is happily enjoying his retirement with hikes in the woods and long naps in the sunshine. 


Therapy Dog Golden Retriever

Giving Retriever Hope is a visiting therapy dog with a very kind and gentle soul.  She is a dog who lives to be loved!  In therapy, she makes a special and unique connection with everyone she meets.

Hope joined our therapeutic team as a dog with special needs.  As a great example of diversity and disability, Hope walks with just 3 legs.  She inspires the children she meets when she demonstrates the ways in which she has adapted to function successfully.  Like other dogs, she walks, runs, plays, swims and enjoys time basking in the sunshine outdoors.

We are grateful to have her as part of our talented team!


Giving Retriever Hope was successfully matched and placed with Dan and Marcia, a retired couple whose lives were profoundly changed when Dan suffered a life-changing spinal cord injury.   

Read More About Their Partnership


Assistance Dog English Cream Golden Retriever

Giving Retriever Eleanor joined our therapeutic team in July 2016.  Gentle and filled with love, we just adore her personality and sense of humor!  She started her training shortly after birth with early puppy stimulation and controlled exposure to novel sights and sounds in preparation for her Assistance Dog work.  Socialization was the most crucial aspect to her early puppy enrichment.  Before she reached 7 weeks old, she was exposed to various people including children who helped her to form a secure foundation of trust with humans. 


Eleanor’s work as a Giving Retriever includes Clinical, Classroom and Community-Integrated Therapy.  Her aptitude for service work and her desire to connect with people makes her ideal for this type of work.


Golden Retriever Puppy Therapy Dog Emotional Support Dog

Giving Retriever Hutchinson aka "Hutch" (named after the students at the Anne Hutchinson School) is just about the sweetest, kindest, most sincere pup you can imagine. His desire to be in companionship with people (especially children) makes him perfect for his role in Canine-Integrated Therapy. 


Public Access Americans with Disabilities Act

Giving Retriever Rose was born on December 24th, 2014 and started her training as a Giving Retriever shortly thereafter.  She’s a beautiful, driven and intelligent Golden Retriever who loves to use her nose to find treasures, especially those buried in the snow!  Her training has included obedience, agility and Assistance Dog work.  As a Giving Retriever, Rose participated in both Clinical and Community Integrated Therapy sessions where she excelled with tasks such as opening doors and retrieving dropped items.  With her naturally strong propensity to use scent to navigate the world, she is a dog who we hope will develop the ability to detect oncoming seizures in people.     



Giving Retriever Rose was successfully matched and placed as a Skilled-Dog with Anna, a young woman with Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy who benefits from their therapeutic bond.


Sensory Processing Disorder

Giving Retriever Beibhinn joined our team in July 2015 as a Skilled-Dog-In-Training.  She is a confident, resilient, amiable dog with a strong natural work ethic.  Her training as a Giving Retriever has included the AKC Star Puppy Certification, agility, obedience, and Assistance Dog work.  Beibhinn has participated in Community and Clinical Canine-Integrated Therapy including Giving Retriever’s programs at the ARC of Westchester and Sensory Stepping Stones.  When she is not working, Beibhinn loves to retrieve tennis balls and go for long hikes in the woods.   


Giving Retriever Beibhinn was successfully matched and placed as a Skilled-Dog with Henry, a 10-year old boy with Autism.  Her loyal, monogamous and analytical personality resonates with Henry and provides him with a sense of confidence, comfort and companionship that enriches his life.  

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Giving Retriever "Sweet" Simon joined our Canine-Integrated Therapy team in early 2018.    His amiable "go with the flow"  attitude makes loving him easy.  He is calm and comforting - everything we look for in Giving Retriever temperaments.  



Giving Retriever Harper joined our team late summer 2018.  She is a sweet soulful girl, with a nice balance of intuitive and intelligent.   Her training includes spending days at a residential treatment facility in Westchester where she helps to foster positive relationships and diffuse conflict between residents.  She is the pup who stole our hearts. 



Giving Retriever Healey and Harper are full sisters.  Healey is a dog who loves to have fun!  She is light lighthearted and melts to the floor with contentment when you pet her.  She is a dog who makes you laugh and enjoys the companionship of everybody with no exception.  What a wonderful addition she has been to our team!


Puppies who join our Giving Retriever team our purpose bred for Service and Therapy Dog work.

Giving Retriever Bleu is a true gem!  He has one of those "one in a million" temperaments that overwhelms us with gratitude.  He is level-headed, steady, reliable, patient, gentle, and above all, kind.  You can always find him by your side awaiting your next adventure.  

Coming Soon


Giving Retriever training begins when the puppies are born with early neurological stimulation.  Check back soon to meet our newest additions.  

Coming Soon


How do we describe a Giving Retriever?  

Amiable, patient, and low-aroused.