DRAGON BITESSTUDENT WELLBEINGTherapy Dog Helps Students Relaxby Marie Slaby
High School Librarian
MAY 27, 2022 - 2 MIN READNinth grader Zara Rashid is a regular in the High School library, but she never expected to see a dog there. “I knew that petting a dog increased dopamine in the brain,” Zara said, but she didn’t realize how calming it would feel to have a therapy dog draped over her lap for several minutes. “The sensations lasted a long time. I had a biology summative afterwards, and it went well I think because I was calm.”High School Students experience Tucker in "weighted blanket" mode, where he lies on a lap to calm you.Zara was one of over 70 students who dropped by to meet a therapy dog named Tucker during a wellness event co-sponsored by the library and counseling departments. Students were able to stroke the labradoodle and learn about his certification to help people dealing with anxiety and PTSD. His owner, child psychologist Dr. Rick Smith, explained that Tucker came from generations of therapy dogs and underwent a year of training in the US before joining Dr. Smith in his counseling practice.

Libraries commonly host therapy animals to help students socially and emotionally. Research shows that “therapy dogs may enhance [K-12] students’ mood and positive emotionality, social and communication skills, confidence and their relationship with teachers.”

Tucker remained calm and alert throughout his visit with dozens of High School students.High School counselor Steve Bennett noticed the impact immediately. “As soon as I walked into the classroom that housed a dozen students and the therapy dog, I felt a sense of calmness. Not only was the dog providing comfort for the student the dog was lying on, all the other students were feeling a sense of relaxation by just being there in the moment, and watching the emotional support the dog was providing with its companionship, affection, and comfort.”

So bringing therapy animals into the library was a great way to promote wellness and bring on some smiles at the end of a stressful school year!
Psychologist Dr. Smith speaks with students about Tucker's training and skills.

The Past in the Present

HKIS Students “speak” to Holocaust survivors through Dimensions in Testimony, a virtual reality program brought to HKIS by the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Center.