Animal Science students at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center recently had a special guest, Jennifer Fritton and her golden retriever Aurora. Teacher Paige Hungerford asked Jennifer to talk about Aurora’s role as a therapy dog.
Jennifer said when she got Aurora she knew she would be perfect for providing therapy for patients with substance abuse and/or mental health disorders. “She had such a lovely temperament and I knew she would be great with the patients I work with.” Jennifer is a counselor and works with Horizon Health Services’ Addiction Rehab and Mental Health Services. She explained how it took several months to train Aurora and get her certified as a therapy dog.
Students also learned about the many health benefits of having a therapy dog work with patients and how they help to bring them comfort as they work towards recovery. Studies show that these dogs lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce patient anxiety and increase levels of endorphins and oxytocin. “All the students were excited for Jennifer and Aurora to visit,” says Mrs. Hungerford. “I had one student in particular who was extra excited as she learned the week before that SUNY Cobleskill has a Canine Training and Management Program where students learn how to train a variety of service type dogs. She intends to attend this program and hopefully train many dogs that are as helpful as Aurora.”