Frequently Asked Questions

What do the dogs do?

They interact with the residents, or members of the group we’re working with, by going to individuals for one-to-one touch. The act of communicating with another being, often without words, is very beneficial to all types of people. The dogs are subtle, but effective, therapists for physical and emotional ailments.

How are the dogs trained?

I work with retired racing greyhounds that have already received a great deal of obedience training while at the track. My dogs go through on-the-job training, daily at-home training and participate in courses offered by Delta Society or Therapy Dog International.

What does it cost for a Clarinetherapy session?

A healing-music session is one hour and in the Seacoast area costs $50/hr. Two, and sometimes three, greyhounds come with the session, but always as volunteers, and will stay at home on request!

Does Clarinetherapy do any other type of music than solo clarinet?

Yes, Clarinetherapy can come as a duo, trio or quartet (consisting o combos of guitar, acoustic bass, keyboard and clarinet) to play American Songbook and jazz standards for all sorts of occasions.

Could Clarinetherapy work for your organization or institution?

Clarinetherapy began in December of 1999 as a full-time business offering therapeutic/healing music along with animal-assisted therapy. Karen Johnson, the clarinet half of Clarinetherapy, is a professional clarinetist and certified music practitioner with a strong interest in the healing properties of music. For centuries, music has been used to aid people in times of crisis and celebration. From a single voice to the power of an orchestra, music effects how we feel, creates new experiences and renews memories. Clinically it’s been proven to slow brain waves, reduce muscle tension, strengthen memory and learning, foster endurance and improve coordination, to name just a few of it’s extraordinary properties. From the perspective of Clarinetherapy however, it’s most important use is generating a sense of safety and well-being.

The therapy half of Clarinetherapy is currently made up of Butch and Rumford, two retired racing greyhounds. Both have been through extensive training, on and off the job, and show a tireless interest in the well-being of the many ‘clients’ (nursing home residents and others) they interact with. Butch has worked with Karen since 1999, and Rumford since May of 2002. The demeanor, height, gentleness and intelligence are all part of the effectiveness of the greyhound in working with those who are wheel-chair bound, elderly, or somehow in need of special care and understanding. Clarinetherapy specializes in the needs of Alzheimer and other dementia-related patients. Our services are also useful for classrooms, support groups and complementary therapy presentations.

Karen Johnson is a certified music practitioner in the use of clarinet as a healing instrument. Formerly an 18 yr. veteran of law enforcement (Eliot, Maine P.D. and Portsmouth, N.H. P.D.), she left police work to pursue a career working with elderly, music, and greyhounds. She has studied clarinet at University of New Hampshire, and with private teachers. Karen is affiliated with N.H. Theatre Project (, a community arts organization, and has played at Manchester N.H. Palace Theatre. She and her husband reside in Portsmouth, N.H. with their three greyhounds, a turtle named Mister, and many un-named goldfish!

For reference and resume and fee requests, please call, write, or email.