Therapy Dog Helps Nurses

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Have you ever wondered what a therapy dog does?

Meet Lucy. She’s a beautiful Irish Setter who is now serving as a therapy dog for the students at the Arizona College of Nursing. When she was eight weeks old, Lucy was adopted by Dr. Jennifer Bonilla. Lucy then joined a dog therapy program at only a 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. For example, those settings could include 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 exactly 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 kind of 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 that’s 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 wandering the hallways of the Arizona College of Nursing, Lucy provides comfort to students and helps relieve their stress.

“There have been a number of times where we had a student who has had a rough day or come in upset because of a personal issue at home, and they’re meeting with the counselor or meeting with one of our deans. We bring the dog in and that helps tremendously.”

There are alternate options of therapy that the college provides for its students who are looking for other ways to deal with stress, like art therapy. However, “Lucy therapy” 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 student Kramale Keene.

Want to learn more about therapy dogs? Click here.

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

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