El Diablo December 17, 2018

Some angels choose fur instead of wings. There’s a reason why people have pets: so that they don’t feel alone and that they know they are loved and supported. One of these angels is Jane, a new therapy dog who visits DHS, and interacts with everyone on campus, specifically helping students with exceptional needs improve social interactions, as well as providing support for anyone who needs it.  

Jane, a two-year-old golden retriever, has been coming to the school since March 2018. There is also another, more well-known therapy dog, Bo.

“Bo has worked in the health center a few days a week and has been at DHS for several years,” said ESS paraprofessional Brandon Ledford.

Jane, like Bo, doesn’t come into the school every day.

“Jane comes with me about three times a week into the school to be with and help students,” said Amanda Rich, DHS school psychologist and Jane’s owner.

The main jobs of therapy dogs is to aid the psychological and physiological needs of the disabled and sick. These dogs have easy-going and friendly personalities, giving people support and comfort.

However, therapy dogs are there for everyone, not just the disabled or the sick. The dogs can offer warm hugs and big smiles to whoever is having a bad day.

These dogs can visit schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and more. Having therapy dogs in class and school can help students cope with anxiety, focus better, and can even maintain better memory and problem-solving skills.

Dogs like Jane have to go through special programs to become a therapy dog.

“We attended courses through Durango Dog College. She is a certified through K9 to 5 National Therapy Dog Registry,” said Rich.

The dogs who go through the program have to have multiple visits in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc. to see if they can interact well with people. At the end of the program, they have to be observed by professional trainers to see if they are making a difference in people’s lives. Once they pass the test, they become officially certified therapy dogs.

Many people think that therapy dogs are the same as service dogs, but they actually have quite different jobs and services. Service dogs specifically help their owners with disabilities and can react quickly to help them when things go wrong. They are there to protect and give the disabled independence, but not psychological services. The staff and students at DHS love getting to interact and play with both Jane and Bo.

“I’m really excited to get to play with Jane,” said Fr. Anthony Hernandez.

Dogs like Jane and Bo can really impact people’s lives by giving them a feeling of love and comfort. Students can feel calmed, relaxed, and positive when around these dogs, and in turn, the dogs feel loved and happy to be helping people. Animals truly can heal, and dogs like Jane have healing paws for everyone.

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