(Buffalo, N.Y.) – When you think of dogs, you often think of a playful companion that jumps on the couch and licks your face.
However, our furry friends often have more to offer to humans in terms of health benefits than you may realize.
Service dogs can be trained to assist the impaired by performing tasks, but they can also be trained to provide affection, comfort and emotional support.
On April 19, Wiegel Health Promotions at SUNY Buffalo State partnered with Horizon Health Services to provide students an opportunity to unwind and relax from their busy schedules with the help of a few therapy dogs.
“Therapy dogs are for anyone who’s feeling stressed out,” said Jacki Flis, a graduate intern with Horizon Health Services.
Flis appeared on the Buffalo Review TV April 20 to discuss the event and the benefits of service animals.
She said therapy animals can often increase happiness, decrease stress levels or fill an emotional void created by addiction or mental illness.
“Studies have shown that before going into an exam, you play with a therapy dog, (student) test scores are usually better,” said Flis.
“Any dog can be a service animal, therapy animal,” said Flis. “Usually golden retrievers and greyhounds are the most popular and common dogs…to use as therapy dogs.”
Horizon Health Services uses its therapy dog program to improve and enhance the organization’s treatment and recovery programs, according to Flis.
She said four golden retrievers named Hope, Dakota, Oxford and Cooper often visit the Buffalo State campus to assist students.
For information about acquiring the assistance of a service dog, students can visit the Wiegel Health Center.
* Terrance Young contributed to this report.