College final exam preparation can be a very stressful time for students. Who better
to relieve some of the stress than a couple of dogs?
Kelly and Charlie are two such dogs. The yellow Lab/Golden Retriever mix dogs are
canine Therapy Dogs that not only work in hospitals with the sick and elderly; they
even travel to college campuses to be stress-relievers for young adults. The students
at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida were visited recently by Kelly and Charlie
on the university lawn in a two-hour therapy event called "Paws and Relax."
According to Lynn University Psychotherapist Kirt McClellan, "Pet therapy has been
recognized to help increase coping skills and decrease stress." Many studies have
touted the benefits of animals and their positive effect on education and human
Kelly and Charlie have also turned a tense reading environment into a fun experience
through the Children Reading to Dogs study group. Elementary students are
given the opportunity to read aloud to the dogs in a non-threatening place where
they are able to read for fun and without the risk of being embarrassed about mispronouncing
a word or reading at a slower pace. The 3rd grade students who participated in this
eight-week pilot program "achieved higher fluency and comprehension reading levels."
Kelly and Charlie were unbelievable motivators as children overcame anxiety as well
as their fear of dogs. The canines also work with children with autism to increase
their verbal output, decrease aggression and increase listening and attention.
The younger and older students sing the dogs praises. Many of the college students
said that their stress level decreased substantially once they had been around the dogs.
Kelly and Charlie are owned by Tom DeCicco, who owns the Boca Raton-based Therapy
Dogs of South Florida. The dogs begin their training at 10-weeks of age which helps
them to learn to remain calm under any circumstance. Last year, the therapy dog teams received Wachovia Bank's "Community Service Award."