Therapy Dog Helps Nurses – Arizona PBS

Have you ever wondered what a therapy dog ​​does?

Meet Lucy, an Irish Setter who is now serving as a therapy dog ​​for the students at the Arizona School of Nursing. At eight weeks old, Lucy was adopted by Dr. Jennifer Bonilla, where she was later placed in a dog therapy program at one-year-old.

What is a Therapy Dog?

According to the American Kennel Club, therapy dogs are considered to be dogs who travel with their owners to volunteer different settings such as schools, hospitals and nursing homes. From working with a child who is learning to read, to visiting a senior in assisted living; Therapy dogs and their owners work together as a team to improve the lives of other people.

How Do They Help?

You might have seen or heard about therapy dogs but have you ever wondered what they do to help people? Research has the answer.

“For decades there’s been research done on therapy dogs. In general, even for people that have their own pets at home, dogs are known to lower blood pressure and heart rate.” says Dr. Bonilla

What Types of Dogs are Eligible?

With the wide variety of dog breeds out there, it can be tough to determine what dog is eligible to become a therapy dog. Here’s what Dr. Bonilla had to say:

“I think any breed could be a therapy dog, it’s mostly the demeanor is really important. You’re looking for that gentleness, the calmness. The ability to be trained well.”

How Does Lucy Help the Students?

With four paws wondering the hallways of the Arizona School of Nursing, Lucy provides comfort to students in hopes of relieving their stress.

“There’s been a number of times where we had a student that has had a rough day or come in upset because of a personal issue at home and their meeting with the consoler; meeting with one of our deans. We bring the dog in and that helps tremendously.”

There are alternate options of therapy that the school provides for its students who are looking for other ways to deal with stress, called “art therapy.” However, Lucy is still the most popular choice by the students when it comes to picking a type of therapy.

“I just know that I’m going to be okay because Lucy is there during the stressful part” said Keene (student).

Want to learn more about therapy dogs? Click here.

Dr. Jennifer Bonilla, Executive Director of Academic Operations at Arizona School of Nursing
Johnathan Keene, Nursing Student
Kramale Keene, Nursing Student

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