Therapy dog helps relieve stress, comfort students at Hudson High School

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HUDSON, Ohio- Students at Hudson High School, like many of their peers elsewhere, face numerous pressures related to school, from their peers, and social media.

"Our kids are maxed on everything they are involved in -- from schoolwork to extracurriculars," said Marc Zustin, a Hudson teacher.

"The community and our administration have been focusing on social, emotional learning and have identified that maybe bringing in a therapeutic dog could help de-stress some of the students, especially for testing with everything they have on their plate," added Mark Cuva, who teaches psychology at Hudson.

And that is where Trigger comes in.

Trigger is a six-year-old great dane that has been doing therapy work for about four years.

"We got a phone call about a month-and-a-half ago, seeing if we would be willing to come here because of the stress level of the kids and the studying for the ACT practice test so they thought bringing the dog in would calm the kids down and I think it did," said Jackie Arvay, Trigger's owner.

From the moment Trigger enters the school, faculty and students are drawn to the dog.

"He will just go up to the kids. He loves the kids; he loves to have the kids pet his head, rub his belly. He just loves it and the kids love it; it calms them down," said Arvay.

"And it just has that calming effect. I don' know if it's something innate or something environmental that they have learned or maybe the students have had a pet in their lifetime, so it's been pretty cool to see, though, as a therapeutic measure here in Hudson," said Cuva.

In addition to schools, Trigger, and other therapy dogs, are used in hospice and at funeral homes.

In schools, therapy dogs can be a comfort to students following a tragedy involving one of their classmates.

"Of course when people are crying he will just go and put his head on their shoulder or across their lap so he does know and he does comfort people," said Arvay.

At Hudson High School on Monday, students confirmed the dog does give them a momentary release from the stress of their daily routine and expectations.

"It's a dog, so when somebody sees it even in the school it just makes your day a little bit better, right, because who doesn't love dogs?" said Ricardo Franco, a Hudson sophomore.

"Especially during how hectic school days can be.  Sometimes it's good to just take a breath, slow down and look at this beautiful dog," said Hudson senior Samantha Betts.

"He makes me think of my dogs that I have at my home too and makes me like relieve my stress from all the testing and homework that we have," added Abbie Brockway, also a senior.

Trigger's visits are voluntary through an organization called Canine Caring Angels.

Since starting the visits to Hudson High School he has been stopping at the school several times a month.

"It's just a nice calming presence," said Cuva.

"You know something that you can maybe not measure in numbers but you definitely can measure it in an emotional impact."

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