Who Let the Dogs Out?

Therapy Dogs in UAIS

Angela Zaitouna, Staff

what type of dog would you want as a therapy dog?

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As of recent, there has been a heavy push towards methods for better mental health. One of the ways to balance out mental health with the stresses of everyday life is with the help of a well-trained furry companion. The role of therapy dogs is to react and respond to people and their environment, under the guidance and direction of their owner. For example, an individual might be encouraged to gently pat or talk to the dog to teach sensitive touch and help them be calm.  

A school frequently making the list of most academically challenging high schools according to The Washington Post, it is no wonder UAIS creates an environment able to produce stressing situations. In addition to talking with the AMES advisor or school counselor, therapy dogs could provide another option to assist students in dealing with stress. With a real-life possibility of having therapy dogs in the building, it is time to test the waters and get the real thoughts and opinions of the UAIS students on therapy dogs. 

Starting off with the basics, students were asked to share their opinion on therapy dogs. The consensus of the students selected was that therapy dogs would be a helpful addition to the schoolSenior Emily Bennett noted, “I think therapy dogs are very helpful and a good addition to any person who needs one. I know people who have been helped by therapy dogs.’’ Specifically, for UAIS a therapy dog would make it easier to speak to advisors and counselors for students struggling to communicate their emotions  

When asked if they would bring a therapy dog to school, it was a simple yeah as the answer by the students. 

In a perfect scenario therapy, dogs would be available for the whole week, however, it is more common for therapy dogs to be brought in for only one or two days a week. The question of which day of the week to bring in a therapy dog would be a decision the students need to make. From their answers, one can see the upperclassmen in the diploma program need their support more towards the middle of the week-a therapy dog helping them see the light of the awaiting weekend. While the underclassmen need a fuzzy buddy to aid them to trudge through the Monday morning back from the weekend. 

Once again, therapy dogs would only be a weekly occurrence if provided, however, depending on the day their impact can be huge. A therapy dog will be most helpful on a day that is higher than stress than the other. The students were asked which day, A or B, they would bring a dog to. The upperclassman finds their B-days to be more stressful, while the underclassman finds their A days more stressful. Perhaps this could build the system in which the upperclassmen have the dogs on B days and the underclassmen have them on A days. 

Building on the concept of limited time with the therapy dogs, it is crucial to figure out what class would be the most important one to bring a dog to. It is an amendment to the French language and its difficulty to learn as both a senior and a sophomore find it a class they would bring a therapy dog to. Madame’s passion for the language making every minute of the class efficient and educational. If the dog were to come to the class, it better know its commands. . . en Francais. For freshman Maryann worry not, English class will only get more complex from here on out and a fuzzy buddy can help with the stress. As for the junior, biology was an excellent choice to bring a therapy dog to, you can pet it as the inter-working’s of a mammalian kidney is being explained to you. 

With when and where the therapy dog would be brought to all decided, in a true IB manner one must think of the underlining impact that therapy dogs being introduced to UAIS will have. Junior Sarah thought that the dogs “could have a positive benefit for the people who need it’’ and this fits the flow of thought of the other students. Others generally agreed that therapy dogs’ impact on the building would be positive and they would be a ‘’good resource’’,  noted sophomore Peter for the students at UAIS. 

As a school, the building does a great job of being aware of and aiding in the student’s mental health.  The students could see the mental health benefits of reducing the stress of the school but as Peter confirms he was ‘’ unsure of on the educational impact’’. Emily responded optimistically regarding educational and mental impact ‘’no harm, only benefits are to come’’. 

One must also keep in mind the question if it is reasonable to have a therapy dog in the building. The principled IB students found it would be reasonable under the right conditions and “if there are no severe allergies’’, commented  Maryann, way to be caring! 

With the questions of impact and timing answered, it is time for the most important question to be asked. What kind of dog would be the perfect therapy dog and why? The students undoubtedly wanted a fluffy dog.  Maryann noted, “um, I don’t’ know dog types, but a fluffy one because they’re fluffy.’’  A larger dog such as a golden retriever or a Labrador would be preferable for a UAIS therapy dog. 

Astoundingly and shockingly the students did not have anything they would have liked to add to the topic. The students then proceeded to scurry back to their natural habitat of acronyms, sleep deprivation, and studious schedules. The minute-long interaction with a yearbook ambassador was over, but the effects were long-lasting.

From this group of students there was no outright objection to the possibility of therapy dogs in UAIS, but peraps your answers may differ, leave your opinions in the comments below. Or if you are even more passionate about bringing in therapy dogs, do not be afraid to type out your thoughts. Additionally, please browse the gallery of UAIS students and their dogs.