Therapy dogs helping the Bulldogs

Allie Schein, Memorial Staff Writer

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Memorial offers many opportunities for their students including sports, clubs, electives, and many other extracurriculars, however one widely unknown program students have available to them through the school is counseling with therapy dogs.

Cassie Sharp, Memorial’s Student Resource Counselor, says the dogs currently don’t come on a schedule, but the school does use them.

“The dogs come on an as needed basis, if someone believes they need a dog, they can contact the Calm Waters organization who specializes in grief support and obtain approval through the principal,” Sharp said.

Although Memorial currently doesn’t offer year round animal therapy, some Edmond schools have therapy dogs come several times a week. Jodi Schein is one therapy dog owner who takes her Golden Retriever named Juno, to Westfield Elementary School.

“The kids at the school love reading to Juno when she visits,” Schein said. “Juno loves the attention she receives, and the kids are happy and calm as a result.”

Jordan Tark, a representative from Calm Waters, says the dogs are a good source of therapy for those in need of grief support.

“Dogs have a good temperament,” Tark said. “They’re a tactile presence that someone can distract themselves with so they are able to communicate what they’re going through.”

Hannah Prentice, a senior at Memorial, uses a emotional support dog, a Pitbull Lab mix named Bella, to combat some of her mental health struggles.

“Bella helps me to not stress about so many things in my life,” Prentice said. “She’s something consistent in my life I have to think about and take care of.”

Therapy dogs are an amazing source of comfort for students, even if they are currently unable to take part in the program year-round.

“I would love to begin bringing therapy dogs to Memorial year-round so the students have more opportunities to interact with them,” Sharp said.

Prentice says using an emotional support dog as an alternative to medication is something anyone with health issues should consider.

“I would 100 percent recommend at least an attempt to use a therapy animal because the bond a human has with an animal is really special,” Prentice said.

If someone is in need of support but would rather not use a dog, Calm Waters also offers other counseling options.

“We offer free grief support, divorce support groups, school groups and one on one counseling sessions,” Tark said.

Therapy dogs are a wonderful tool to help someone through stress, grief or other hard events in life. Although

Memorial currently doesn’t offer a year-round program currently, but therapy dogs still positively affect the lives of the students at the school.

Contact writer at [email protected].

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