A ‘golden’ opportunity for comfort

Golden retriever serves as ‘comfort dog’ at Carleton School

Sandra Philson - For the Sentinel

SYRACUSE — Carleton School and Meigs Industries each were recently visited by “Comfort Dog,” Halle, who belongs to Steve Trotta, physical therapist from Ohio University Therapy Associates.

Halle is a 3.5-year-old blonde golden retriever. Halle is training to be a comfort dog that can decrease anxieties, fears and stress of individuals. She has been through obedience training and continues to train to recognize individuals in need of her services.

Halle brought big smiles and happiness to many of the adults and students at Carleton School and Meigs Industries today. Adults and students who normally do not pay much attention to their surroundings were even quick to extend a hand to pet her today.

Animal-assisted therapy with therapy dogs, like Halle, offers a number of psychological and physical benefits, from easing anxiety to lowering blood pressure. In fact, studies show that simply touching a therapy dog for 12 minutes can lower levels of stress hormone epinephrine by 17 percent, reduce blood pressure by 10 percent and decrease anxiety by 24 percent. Simply being around a therapy dog has a calming effect on both mind and body. The benefits of animal-assisted therapy are effective, even with short-term exposure.

Research shows that AAT is beneficial to a range of people, such as children who have experienced neglect or abuse, people experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, children and adults experiencing depression, stress and anxiety, individuals dealing with medical issues such as cancer, adults with memory disorders or dementias, those who live with autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, or attention deficit hyperactive disorder and anyone needing an unconditional, non-judgmental space in which to work through issues.

Golden retriever serves as ‘comfort dog’ at Carleton School

Sandra Philson

For the Sentinel