Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Parent to Parent: Therapy Dogs
There's nothing like a good cuddle with a furry friend, especially if you're stressed and anxious. Studies show that petting a dog or cat can actually improve your health, and now some college campuses are hoping doggie de-stressing can help kids through their final exams. Seven's Lynn Martinez has the story in tonight's Parent to Parent.
WSVN -- Meet Kelly and Charlie. They're part of an elite canine team, Therapy Dogs of South Florida.
Tom DeCicco: "Trained therapy dogs who had to pass 21 different tests to make sure they're suitable for visiting all types of environments, hospitals, nursing homes and schools, so we visit throughout the tri-county area, six days a week."
Both dogs have tons of energy and are extremely lovable. That's why they're on campus at the University of Miami giving out some much needed puppy love to students in the middle of finals.
Kirt McClellan, U.M. Counseling Center: "A lot of them have concerns. They're very stressed out, and a lot of times they'll have less self-care, meaning they're not eating as well, they're not sleeping as much, so this just gives them a break."
Wonder if these canine caresses really work? Just take a look when Kelly and Charley do their thing. There are smiles and wags all around.
Anna Clausen: "It's always relaxing. You can just sit down and have someone who loves you no matter what you get on a test or no matter how badly you fail a class, you get a kiss on the cheek, and it makes you feel better."
There is science to the good feelings pet therapy delivers.
Research shows cuddling with a pet actually lowers blood pressure and reduces muscle tension. Not to mention a smooch by a cute little pooch makes you feel so doggone good.
Kevin Gleitsman: "Gets your mind off tests, you know? I know that's all I've been thinking about this whole week, and even if it's just for a few seconds it's still good, you know?"
And for homesick students who miss their own pets, this brief interaction is a real moral booster.
Jon Schrader: "Brings you back to home. Especially if you live on campus. You can't have a dog, so it's just really comforting to see them there."
This canine comfort session is a complete success.
U.M. counselors say they're going to have Kelly and Charley come back again when finals roll around at the end of the school year.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Valerie Goode
Therapy Dogs of South Florida