The La Cañada Unified School District has distinguished itself as a leader in providing a wellness community, and therapy dogs on campus are just another opportunity to build a different connection.
Therapy dogs on campus are not a new thing in the district. The high school and middle school have had weekly visits from Harrison the golden retriever for more than eight years, and in the past year, Rigby has joined the pack. Dogs Rumi and Luke can be found visiting the elementary campuses as well. To expand the LCUSD family even further, two new dog teams came aboard last spring, adding to the benefits that come with having therapy dogs around.
Researchers and experts agree that pets excel as therapeutic agents and that dogs are an antidote to depression. Studies have shown decreased blood pressure and stress levels during therapy dog visits. A visit from one of our therapy dog teams can break the daily routine, increase overall emotional well-being and stimulate the mind in dramatic ways.
Therapy dogs are shown to offer benefits to people of all ages such as: bringing joy and laughter, even if for a short time; taking a student’s or staff member’s mind off of personal problems, aches, pains and worries; getting students and staff to share their emotions and stories; giving a chance for students and staff to communicate with others; and lowering stress levels and blood pressure.
The therapy dogs are certified through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and must meet certain requirements, as well as pass a test which includes a handling portion that tests the dog’s basic good manners, demeanor and handling skills. After the handling portion of the test, the dog and its owner are supervised by a tester/observer during three visits with residents of medical facilities. Upon completing these visits and submitting your application paperwork, a dog and its owner may become a “Therapy Team.”
First published in the September 14 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.