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Port Huron,MI: High school therapy dogs have 'real calming effect'

Jan 19, 2022, Port Huron (MI) Times Herald: Therapy dogs offer emotional support, stress relief for Port Huron Northern students

Tommy, a therapy dog, wagged his tail as students at Port Huron Northern High School approached him Wednesday. He succumbed to their pets and flopped on his back, rolling over for belly rubs as students stroked his golden fur. "I love it," senior Malachi Perkins said as he stroked Tommy's head. Perkins said he moved schools last year, and appreciates that Northern holds different activities like this to support students' wellbeing. … Tommy and 12 of his fellow therapy dogs visited as part of Northern's wellness week, which helps students learn about wellness and healthy coping mechanisms, said counselor Julie Barlass. Barlass said students watch daily videos on different aspects of physical and mental wellness. Teachers are also encouraged to have discussions with their students regarding wellness. "We really just want to give our students more strategies and coping skills to manage the stressors of everyday life," Barlass said. … Dog handler Barb Reckker said the dogs provide emotional support and stress relief for the people they visit. Several therapy dog groups who were at the school also visit nursing homes, hospitals, hospice centers and funeral homes. "(The dogs) have a real calming effect," Reckker said. …


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