“The Best Listener” in Class

Therapy Dogs a Beacon of Hope, Love, and Comfort

Heidi Ernst

More stories from Heidi Ernst

The Spring Musical
March 11, 2020

Colleen Poulin photo

A Salisbury Elementary School student pictured with Murphy the therapy dog in the classroom

Two thirds of Americans live with animals. Animals impact humans in positive ways, and these relationships have many benefits. In fact therapy dogs were brought to Triton over midterms and there are also several therapy dogs in the elementary schools including Sailsbury elementary.  So is there a possibility that therapy dogs will soon come to Triton High School?

Therapy dogs were brought to triton this past January during the stressful midterm week. Dr. Adam Lothrop explains that the therapy dogs had a positive impact on his students. “Most of my class just peaced out for about 10-15 minutes, to just go down and see the puppies, and they came back and they were so much happier and in such a better mood and review energy was a lot better,” said Lothrop. 

Principal Patrick Kelly explains that the school administration is planning to schedule therapy dogs again in the near future before finals this year and even before breaks. “We will do it again before finals this year and before midterms next year and we probably want to consider thinking about other days before breaks,” said Kelley. 

Kelley thought that the therapy dogs were effective towards the students and acted as a moment of stress relief in a stressful time. He also added that the therapy dogs brought many students together.

“We had students from freshman to seniors all together, enjoying their time together, I think there was a nice piece of community building as well.”

 “Of the 100 or so people that came through i’m not sure I saw someone who wasn’t smiling and happy,” said Kelley 

Therapy dogs are also seen on the campus of Salisbury elementary. 

Colleen Poulin has been a speech and language pathologist for 30 years. “ I have always been interested in the concept of using animals in my therapy sessions and integrating them into the school setting.” When Murphy was brought into her family, Poulin explained that she decided to start the journey of training him to become a therapy dog when he was brought into her family as a puppy.

“Murphy is a registered therapy dog,” “In addition to his primary job as a speech language therapy assistant he also helps with children who need some reassurance or emotional support, reading , writing, assisting children to the nurse, decrease test anxiety, social emotional learning, and overall mood booster,” said Poulin. 

Poulin also described that because of Murphy other therapy dogs have been brought to the school.

“Having Murphy be present in the school and be part of our team has been so successful and positive that we now have 3 therapy dogs that are part of our SES community.”

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association  “Animals were so essential to the daily lives of humans that there is evidence we may not have survived without them.”

Animals are also proven to reduce Stress reduction ,increase health and independence, improve mood, increase physical activity,  and increase social connections and act emotional support.

 According to the Lone Tree  Veterinary Medical center “Studies show that the simple act of stroking a friendly animal increases dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, two chemicals that are essential for happiness and relaxation.”