Therapy dogs: why they are important

Therapy dogs play many roles in today’s society. A therapy dog is used in hospitals, nursing homes, and schools to assist patients and offer them a more calm approach to what is occurring in their life. For example, in elementary schools, students read to the therapy dogs to allow the student a little experience reading out loud and to others. While in nursing homes, a dog helps withdrawn senior citizens out of their shells and brings them to be more confident, happier, and more communicative. As well as in hospitals, they use therapy dogs to relieve depression, anxiety, and overall stress in their patients. In addition to the rest inside prisons, they are testing a rehabilitation method that uses therapy dogs. There is evidence that therapy, including dogs, reduces anxiety, stress, recidivism, and other social variables in male or female inmates.

Would a therapy dog be beneficial inside the Edmond North school environment?

Shadow Bennett, a Senior at Edmond North High school, is for including therapy dogs in the classroom.

“I think they are a good idea. There are lots of things that need to be in place, like training and breeding. The breed of dog to do therapy work can also be important and is often not considered.” Bennett said.

How would therapy dogs be introduced into the school setting? At the beginning of introducing therapy dogs into the school environment, a good start would be having them only available to students who have accommodations and would benefit from meeting with a therapy dog. The school could then slowly open the availability of the therapy dog to a more expansive range of students if needed.

What do the people at Edmond North think about therapy dogs? The general public at Edmond North is very divided on whether having a therapy dog available in the school is necessary.

“I think they would be better for students but maybe less so in high school than in elementary school. They would likely serve as a distraction. If something traumatic happened at a school, there would be a need for therapy dogs, and that often happens, but then they go away. I think keeping a dog after a traumatic event at school would be good” Bennett said.

Jordan Atcheson is a Psychology teacher at Edmond North High school.

“Maybe, but at the same time, you have to take into account allergies and if having a dog would be more of a distraction inside the classrooms,” Atcheson said.

Having a therapy dog in a school is not necessary; however, it could provide a more calming, enthusiastic school environment. Another possibility of gradually introducing a therapy dog into our high school environment would be having one available inside the library. There are numerous benefits to having a therapy dog at North, but we need to consider the downsides. There are people who are afraid of dogs and then the exact opposite where the patient gets possessive and doesn’t want the session to end. We also have to take into consideration that allergies exist and could be a big distraction to students or staff. Hygiene could also be a major issue as most dogs shed and leave a big mess or if the dog goes to the bathroom inside it would be a trouble to clean up.

Mr. Atcheson mentioned, “Maybe, but again, their presence may be calming but there just isn’t enough information on the long-term effects.”

“I think so. Having a therapy dog in a classroom, especially at high school, would not be super exciting or helpful. But having a dog in a quieter environment would help soothe the anxiety of silence,” Bennett added.

The opinion on having a therapy dog inside the library is supported by most, but there has not been any research done on long-term effects on the students or in general.

Overall, therapy dogs are still highly valued members of our community, and they should be treated with respect. The idea of introducing one into high school environments might work well on paper, but no research or evidence is displaying that it would be beneficial. It is still a very beloved idea; nonetheless, and it would be a great addition to any high school, especially for those who need some extra support in a school’s stressful environment.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about this article, please email Forrest Abrahamson at [email protected]