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There are a growing number of schools and universities offering dog therapy to stressed-out students and teachers. In the US, retired professor Mary Jalongo and her Indiana-based therapy dog group started their crusade three years ago at her old university. She is now leading a team of therapy dog handlers as they travel from campus to campus to try and lower students’ anxiety levels. For teenagers in the UK, the charity Dogs Helping Kids (DHK) has a similar mission of bringing trained therapy dogs into schools and libraries across the nation to support young people. In Devon, DHK provide an intervention service for teenagers suffering from forms of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Their highly trained Support School Dogs have been carefully selected for their calm, quiet and gentle natures, and are trained to work on a one-to-one basis to provide unconditional love and support. Also, more children across the UK will be benefiting from the Kennel Club’s Bark and Read project. The project’s pilot programme at a junior school in Hampshire appeared to produce dramatic results, claiming that “Within six weeks 60 per cent of the children taking part improved their reading age by more than three months.” The UK umbrella organisation, Pets As Therapy, estimates that more than 6,000 children a week benefit from therapy dogs.

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