Therapy dogs ease student stress


Abby Challas

Senior Lily Muscarella cuddles a therapy dog Jan. 9 in the College and Career Center.

Selena Kleber, News Managing Editor

A dog is a man’s best friend, providing love, support and even medical assistance. A therapy dog can help people live mentally healthier lives.

Grady brought in five dogs for the enjoyment and emotional support of students on Jan. 9.

The students were smiling. The dogs were smiling. The owners were smiling. The dogs visiting Grady were Oscar, Loki, Jake, Honeyduke and Crosby — all united in a common goal: bring joy to Grady High School. All of the canines are with Happy Tails Pet Therapy but freelanced for the day.

“I thought it was an amazing idea when I first heard about them,” senior Lily Muscarella said. “Most colleges and private schools offer service dogs during finals week, and I think it’s good they finally decided to bring that initiative to us, especially considering how overworked and stressed out many Grady students are.”

While a service dog and a therapy dog may seem the same, there are key differences between the two. A service dog is trained by an individual or person to do a specific job, like a seizure dog or a seeing-eye dog. The person who trains them is typically not the person who ends up owning the dog. The final owner is the individual who benefits from their presence.

A therapy dog is a family pet that accompanies the owner in various situations, including hospitals, nursing homes and schools. The dog has passed general obedience tests and a certification process, but it is not taught any special skills. It just gives and receives love.

Therapy dogs make the childhood dream of bringing your dog to school a reality. Carrie Shevlin, mother of two students and owner of Crosby, organized the activity.

“It all happened pretty quickly,” Shevlin said. “Dr. [Betsy] Bockman posted a photo of her with Ms. [Kimberly] Wadsworth’s new puppy and commented on how nice it would be to have dogs at Grady on a regular basis. I saw the post, commented that I could make that happen, she agreed, I called upon my team, and we were all excited to be at Grady on that day.”

Jan. 9 marked the death of sophomore Theo Weimar. Principal Dr. Betsy Bockman chose the 9th as a good day for the designated “dog visit” because it would be a challenging day for both students and staff.

“It helped a lot,” junior Remy Pair said. “Just to be able to take a break from class and have something positive in the building we could turn to was helpful. I know it helped a lot of people just to be able to have a dog comfort them and get the extra help they might have needed.”

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