Canine Therapy aims to cut stress ahead of finals


Joshua Tarafa

Canine therapy dog Ash is a Keeshond and was one of three dogs that were brought to Lane on Jan. 26 to help students relieve stress.

By Joshua Tarafa, Editor-In-Chief

Dominika Chruszcz, Lara Sonuga, Joshua Tarafa

A large line of students formed outside of the College and Career Center spanning all the way to the cafeteria. These students waited during their lunch period for an opportunity to interact and pet a therapy dog.  

On Jan. 26, a group called Canine Therapy Corps visited Lane with three licensed therapy dogs for students to interact with. The organization was founded in 1991 and serves hospitals and social service institutions across the Chicagoland area.

Ann Davidson, Canine Therapy Corps Operations Manager, has been working with the organization for about three and a half years and described their initiative as “non-directive therapy” for a variety of needs.

“We take them to hospitals where someone is going through physical therapy or someone has had a stroke and lost the ability to use an arm,” Davidson said. “We might have them throw a ball to the dog so that they work on that arm in a way that is more fun and motivating.”

Canine Therapy Corps also works with children in schools and especially those with autism.

“We have them walk them down a hallway to increase the amount of time they have to focus on something,” Davidson said.

Davidson was working with Ash during her visit to Lane. Ash is a Keeshond, which is a medium sized breed that originates from Germany according to the American Kennel Club. Also in attendance was a German Shepherd Mix named Rocko and an American Pitbull named Bentley.

Sara Gawenda, Bentley’s owner, has also been working with the organization for almost four years and has worked with Bentley at hospitals such as Rush and Jesse Brown.

“When it is designed as a de-stress during exam weeks or right when you get back from vacation, that’s what they do really well,” Gawenda said.

Assistant Principal Ms. Hanly, decided to have the dogs come in because of stress that builds before finals.

“We got an idea from a friend of mine who works at Niles North high school and she told me they do this for right before finals and it’s hugely successful,” Hanly said.

Due to the large turnout, Ms. Hanly hopes to be able to invite the group or others again in the future.

 “Certainly seems like it is successful, but per their restrictions with their group we can only do it once a year, so if we can make it happen we will make it happen,” Hanly said.

Student Danny Tu, Div. 152, said he also hopes to see the school host the event again because he has loved dogs from a young age and it was a successful stress reliever.

“As long as I see dogs, I’m good,” Tu said.