After the recent weather events and destruction that followed, many people are still trying to regain a sense of normality. People are volunteering to help their communities while some are trying to fix their houses as well as the possessions they lost. This emotional strain along with the constant pressures of school, work, extra-curricular activities, and even day to day responsibilities, can manifest into an unbearable despair. Understandably, many victims of Harvey aren’t willing to go and seek help from counselors to open up about their feelings. Whether it be out of pride, or simply because people don’t know what to make of their feelings, they will just keep it all locked up inside. But there is a simple solution for breaking people out of their shell all the while getting psychological help: therapy dogs.
In high school, many students have a hard-enough time opening up to their peers and just talking aloud in class the thought of going to a professional adult to talk about emotions is absurd to students. While some teens may go and talk to the counselors, sometimes it just doesn’t suffice. Often these one-on-one conversations feel forced, awkward, and uncomfortable. Having a therapy dog in the mix would make students feel less guarded and more inclined to discuss.
By petting and playing with the furry counselor, oxytocin and dopamine are released from the human brain. Oxytocin is known as the love hormone and is released as a result of positive social interaction. The secretion of this hormone is the reason behind feelings of trust, empathy, and generosity, and results in lower stress levels as well as leaving people more willing to socialize and build healthy relationships. Dopamine falls under the group of chemicals that are known as neurotransmitters, which spread information from neuron to neuron. This chemical is responsible for mood, pleasure, motivation, learning, and many other characteristics. In addition to the mental benefits of having therapy dogs, there are also many physical perks such as decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, improved motor skills, and increased levels of physical activity. Similarly to younger children, high school students also need breaks from time to time, and since the schedule doesn’t allow for recess, having a therapy dog would serve as the breather many students deservingly need. As a product from these satisfying interactions, levels of depression and anxiety are lowered substantially, leaving both the person and dog feeling paws-itively pleased.
Although there are many pros to having therapy dogs, there are some levels of concern. Some students may be allergic to specific dog breeds, while others may be petrified of dogs from bad experiences. However, there are many breeds of dogs out there to consider as therapy dogs such as Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, Cardigan Welsh Corgis, and Collies to name a few. But if allergies are a concern, no need to worry, there are many types of hypoallergenic breeds that are therapy dog material to choose from. As far as people afraid of dogs go, they have no reason to fear these lovable pals as these dogs endure a long process that they must go through in order to become a certified therapy dogs. From training to shows and exams, these dogs do it all. The canines must get their certification in order to be eligible for service, and if they fail they train for next time.
Furthermore, dogs aren’t the only animals that can be therapy companions. Cats, birds, pot-bellied pigs, guinea pigs, horses, rabbits, llamas, alpacas, and even rats are all on the list for therapy friendly animals. The paw-siblities are endless.
All things considered, therapy dogs should be a necessity for every school, not just those effected by natural disasters. Nor should the dogs be at schools for only awhile, after all these animals are trained professionals who deserve a round of appaws for all their hard work. Therapy dogs help lower overwhelming emotions such as stress, anxiety and depression as well as promote physical wellbeing. These animals are compassionate creatures who genuinely seek to make people happy. After having a ruff day, who wouldn’t want to go hang out with a gentle, furry friend? Sitting and talking while petting the pup, playing a game, or even a simple rub will surely make student smile and feel a bit brighter. There’s so much pet-ential to these animals.