In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s look at a particularly pawsome type of therapy: Pet therapy.
Pet therapy refers to when dogs, or sometimes other animals, help people cope with health problems. Pet therapy can benefit people suffering from many kinds of health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, stress, and dementia. That’s why you’ll often find these four-legged helpers at college campuses, hospitals + nursing homes.
For the days that get a little ruff, we rounded up some of Lakeland’s resident pet therapists + pet therapy programs.
Koda visiting the Lakeland Regional Health Staff | Photo via @koda_the_fluff
Koda, aka KODA the Fluff, can be spotted in her red convertible + cool shades, bringing smiles to the Lakeland and Polk County community. While Koda currently has no Lakeland appearances scheduled in the coming weeks, you can have her pay your team a visit through this link.
Lexi, well-known among Southeastern students, is a golden retriever serving the Central Florida area. Lexi and her owner Carolyn Burnett used to spend their days on the Southeastern University campus, but now she’s off to other therapeutic ventures. Lexi is also a member of the Paws for Friendship organization, where therapy pups pay visits to schools and libraries.
Sophie on the job at Florida Southern College | Photo via @flososophie & @fsccounselingcenter
Sophie, aka the Canine Counselor, hangs out at the counseling center at Florida Southern College to help students seeking counseling services feel more comfortable. Sophie has also been known to pop in at events around campus, making friends wherever she goes.
Third graders at Elbert, Dundee + Inwood Elementary Schools get weekly visits from The Humane Society of Polk County’s resident therapy dogs as part of the Paws to Read program. Students get to practice reading aloud to dogs Ally, Sadie, Sophie, Tebow, Timmy + Trooper to gain confidence in their reading abilities. The Humane Society hopes to bring their therapy pups to other Polk elementary schools.