Therapy dogs bring relief to anxious students

Posted at 5:58 PM, May 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-02 19:58:13-04

During the Idaho Standardized Aptitude Testing period, all schools need students to perform optimally. Both the schools' efficacy and the students academic performance are being measured. Eagle Middle School took the innovative measure of bringing in therapy dogs for the students to encounter before entering the testing room.

"I went to the other counselors and talked to them about it," said Dana Knudsen, the 8th Grade Counselor of Eagle Middle School. "They were like, 'It's a good idea but you're crazy."

To reduce any risk that might be introduced to the kids by bringing dogs to the school, Dana contacted Helping Idaho Dogs, a nonprofit that trains dogs and humans to work better together. They brought in two dogs to the school, and many students seemed thrilled.

"Stress hormones drop, heart rate lowers, so it's a very healthy, helpful thing to do for the kids," said Darcel Pecyna of the Helping Idaho Dogs nonprofit.

Eagle Middle School Building Principal Tony Nelson said it was an easy decision to bring the dogs in, and over a week and a half, has noticed relief in students. "They almost seem to be carefree as they step into the testing environment. They don't seem as uptight. They just seem to be enjoying the process, and the dogs, I think, are a big part of that."