Stealing Love, Dogs Recognized as Main Therapy Animal

Nicole Seemann, Website Editor

Their heart is racing as they walk through the concourse; their head lowered to the ground as they go through the list of work ahead, fingers fidgeting as they anxiously lift one by one in a count. They run out of fingers on their hand and drop it to their side, speeding up their gait. The sound of a bark connects with their ears, and they see a group of dogs sitting in the grass. They stop in their rush and hesitantly head towards the dogs, their stress vanishing as they pet their soft fur and see the happy wag of their tail. 

Love on a Leash is a program that brings therapy dogs to Lake Havasu High School, bringing comfort and happiness to the students. This program is pleasurable for both the students and the dogs, but there is one question to be asked. What about the other animals? Afterall, don’t they deserve to be loved too? 

Well, some people aren’t fans of dogs, preferring a cat, bunny or another animal for comfort. Then, there is the matter of those who are allergic to dogs. Though the presence of dogs in the school won’t have any negative impacts on their health, if they keep their distance, they are unable to experience the comfort other students enjoy. 

Just imagine going to school and being able to pet a chinchilla. There are many therapy associations that use other animals such as Pet Partners, which include cats, horses, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, rats, llamas and mini pigs. This provides a very diverse group of animals that can assist a variety of people.

Photo Credit: Somerlyn Miller
After experiencing an exhilarating day at a rodeo in Kingman, junior Someryln Miller is found affectionately hugging her Arabian horse. She feels a deep bond to the animal and all the moments they’ve shared. “Even if he bites me from time to time I still love him.”

Yet, it is scientifically proven that dogs are the best type of therapy animal in regards to dealing with a school. There’s a plethora of reasons as to why the school only provides therapy dogs.  

Firstly, dogs are the most commonly owned animal in the country. About 85 million families own a pet with 63.4 million of these families owning a dog, according to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. 

Also, dogs are the easiest animal to train. When it comes to dealing with a vast group of kids all trying to pet a single animal, it is best for that animal to be well trained, not to run away or bite someone. 

Next, there is the matter of the animal’s personality. Being constantly surrounded and touched can be overwhelming. Kyle Kittleson, an animal behaviorist and television host said, “Touching is the primary love language for dogs, and that they respond well to touch from you.” Dogs are more likely to react kindly to such interactions with humans and complete their purpose of providing love and comfort indubitably. 

In the end, it might not be the best idea to use a cat that claws at anyone within five feet, or an elephant that might accidentally squash a few students. Therapy dogs won’t be leaving LHHS any time soon and won’t claw, bite or crush anyone.