Therapy Dogs at Cupertino High School

Amy Zeng, Flipside Editor

A long line of students stretched around the outside of the Wagon Wheel after school on Tuesday, which might have led onlookers to think that yet another AP test was taking place… if it weren’t for the excited grins of those waiting in line. Psychology Club partnered with local organization Furry Friends to bring therapy dogs to CHS. They hoped to provide stress relief for students and staff as finals approach, as well as educate students about the benefits of therapy dogs for those with mental illnesses.

This year, Psychology Club is a chapter of Let’s Bring Change to Mind, a program that strives to remove stigmas around mental illnesses. According to senior Jyothi Chunduru, a Psychology Club officer, the idea of hosting a therapy dog event originated from this organization. They hoped to educate students about the different roles that therapy dogs can play. Said Chunduru, “I really hope people will understand what therapy dogs do. I hope they will ask questions to learn more about the process and I hope they take away not only that dogs are cute, but that they also serve a purpose and that they are here to help people.”

So how exactly does a regular dog become a therapy dog? Most therapy dogs are family pets who go through a rigorous training process with their owners. Said Erin Straw, owner of chocolate lab Bailey, “A therapy dog is a dog that can follow basic commands like ‘sit’ and ‘down’ and will listen to its owner. It’s also a dog that’s not going to be afraid of loud noises and also be comfortable around other animals, since there are cats, bunnies, and all sorts of other therapy animals. And obviously they must enjoy being around people as well.”

Students were let into the Wagon Wheel in groups and were permitted a short amount of time to meet and pet all the dogs due to the substantial number of participants. Nonetheless, student response to the therapy dog event was overwhelmingly positive. Said freshman Lydia Kohzu,“I really like dogs, so the fact that I got to see them in a public place like this was really nice. I was feeling really stressed and I wanted some relaxation and [the therapy dogs] really helped alleviate that stress.”

Judging by the laughs of the students and the constant, frenetic tail-wagging of the therapy dogs, it is safe to say that this event was definitely barking up the right tree.