Rochester, N.Y. – Therapy dogs make a difference everyday.
Some healthcare centers and schools welcome trained dogs with open arms.
Nine-year-old Hannah, a skye terrier, is a certified therapy dog. Her specialty is working with brain injury patients.
“Dogs have a sense that someone needs them,” said Joan Fingar, Hannah’s owner and a therapy dog handler for over 15 years. ”I think that that's the biggest thing.”
It's that sense of need the school psychologist Angela Mullally hopes a dog brings to School 19 in the Rochester City School District.
Mullally is working with a group called the National Education for Assistance Dog Services, or NEADS, to get a therapy dog in School 19. She hopes the dog will be working before the end of the 2012-2013 school year.
“What I foresee is to help our students with coping strategies,” said Mullally, “working on anger issues.”
Mullally hopes the dog will help calm students down faster, so they spend more time in the classroom.
“I think making a connection with a dog, they don't let you down, there's not a day that they do,” said Mullally.
Joan Fingar knows that connection well, she's witnessed it.
“She was sitting in my lap, I was in a chair,” said Fingar as she reflected on a therapy encounter, “when I thought we were done, she [the dog] reached her head over into the wheelchair arm to give him a kiss. I knew then they [the dogs] knew better then I did.”
Proving, maybe dogs really are man's best friend.