Therapy dogs help to heal

Students enjoy time with therapy dogs brought in by local owners in the Campus Center on Oct. 12. The therapy dogs normally visit the library on Thursdays.

I think we could all agree that today, it is normal to feel rushed or anxious. It is easy for anyone to get stressed. No matter who you are; a college student, a hospital worker, an adult working a full-time job, or even a kindergartener! 

It is extremely important to take care of your mental health and overall wellbeing. Even though there are many ways you could go about taking care of your mental health, one proven and well-known resource is emotional support dogs. 

Mental Health America shines light on this topic by stating “recent research exploring the benefits of pets and human-animal interaction for mental health has uncovered new benefits for stress, depression, post-traumatic stress and for managing mental health. Now, we have peer-reviewed scientific evidence that tells us pets help owners manage their feelings; and provide a powerful distraction from the stress of having a mental health problem. Therapy dogs also help reduce stress in college students.” 

For thousands of years, humans and canines have found comfort in one another. Whether it is foraging for food, going for a walk, or even taking a nap on the couch! The bonds between dogs and humans are the most popular bond in the animal kingdom. 

These incredibly strong bonds that we have constructed over both our evolutions can help humans and dogs function very productively. We can see a tremendous example of how well this pathway works if we look at Caring Canines of Southern Vermont. 

To say the least, Caring Canines has done a phenomenal job providing mental comfort to the students at Vermont State University at Castleton. Each Thursday in the library, therapy dogs visit between 12:45-1:45pm. 

Dogs Bella, Murphy, Ollie, Grizzly, Mila and Marley are common visitors to the campus. When students interact with the dogs, they seem to enjoy the experience. Not only do they enjoy interacting with different people, but the staff also enjoy helping others as well. 

President of Caring Canines, Linda Barker states “Two years ago I joined Caring Canines with my Cavalier, Murfee. I went into it thinking I’d just be doing nursing homes with him. . . I was wrong. It turns out that Murfee just didn’t enjoy nursing homes, but he loved kids. Murfee excels with kids in the reading programs. Since then my two Lhasa’s, Pip & Squeek, and my Shih Tzu, Stormy, have become certified therapy dogs also. Our days are filled with visits to nursing homes (Pip & Squeek love those visits), grade schools, the hospital, the university and more. I love the Caring Canines organization for introducing me to the joy of sharing my dogs with others and bringing smiles to their faces.” 

If you have never been to a therapy dog meeting, I strongly encourage you to visit one. Whether you have a favorite dog or not, you will see and experience the true magic at work. 

The dogs draw your attention while positively making you feel comfortable. Before you even know it, the strangers that once surrounded you feel closer, and you feel more relaxed. The energy in the room feels very connected, all centered around these caring canines! Each person is looking for a mental break and maybe a new friend. . . whether that be human or dog! 

– Gavin Bradley

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