What are the Benefits of Animal Therapy?
Therapy animals, especially dogs, have known benefits of enhancing children’s psychological development, improving social skills and increasing self-esteem. Not only can dogs teach responsibility, compassion and respect for other living things, but in a school setting, dogs can be used to calm fears, relieve anxiety and teach skills.
Reading Education Assistance Dogs
Since 2011, Reading Education Assistance Dog (R.E.A.D.) teams have offered services to our elementary students. R.E.A.D. teams consist of a registered therapy dog tested for health, safety and temperament, and a handler who focuses on the comfort of the child over reading speed or performance. For students who struggle to read, this combination is both motivating and therapeutic. When children are relaxed and reading to a nonjudgmental animal companion, they can experience the pleasure of books and get in extra practice without feeling singled out. Elementary teachers refer students who may need additional reading supports to this program. Please contact your child's teacher if you feel your student could benefit.
On-Campus Assistance Dog-in-Training
The Parish School benefits from having a dog on campus full-time that is being trained to become an assistance dog. Elementary Speech-Language Pathologist, Heather Hillery is a volunteer puppy raiser with Canine Companions for Independence, a non-profit organization that places assistance dogs with individuals who have disabilities. Heather is raising her second puppy at The Parish School. Named “Jill XI,” the puppy accompanies Heather to school each day and interacts with students in the elementary classes.
Read more about Heather and her work with Canine Companions:
- "Pup gets an education along with students at Parish School"
(Houston Chronicle, Aug. 18, 2016)
- "Service dog in training eases student stress"
(KHOU-TV, May 13, 2016)