Young pooch to help NAIT students cope with stress, anxiety
EDMONTON – There’s a new member on staff at NAIT, and his goal is to help students and staff cope with stress and anxiety.
Flynn is a one-year-old Australian Labradoodle. He’s just passed his obedience and temperament testing through Chimo Animal Assisted Therapy to become NAIT’s first certified assisted therapy dog.
“Flynn is just himself and the students and staff take time to interact, play with him, talk to him. He’s like a little doorway. He opens the door for them,” said Registered Nurse Linda Shaw, who is the supervisor of health services at NAIT. “People start to open up and I’m able to help them.”
Therapy animals are used at several locations including hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centres. They’re also brought in to comfort victims of mass-casualty events.
In December 2012, the University of Alberta Health and Wellness team brought in “puppy therapy” to help students through exam time, when many students feel added pressure.
After seeing many successful examples of people opening up when animals are present, Shaw thought NAIT would be the perfect environment for a therapy dog.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to have a dog here year-round, especially because NAIT has a lot of trades,” she explained. “It’s quite amazing to see these tough young men in some of the trades, how they break down into like little kids when they see Flynn coming down the hall.”
NAIT’s Health Services Department will implement an official animal assisted therapy program this September.
© 2014 Shaw Media