By Sue Pascoe
Courage, Swade, Gigi and Fletcher stopped by Palisades High School on December 11 to provide petting opportunities for kids who might be stressed over finals week.
PaliHi’s Associated Student Body Leadership’s Adam Toubian said, “Since I was a freshman, I’d look forward to Therapy Dog Day all semester long. Now that I’m a senior, and in ASB, I want to give new freshman something to look forward to, just like I did.”
In an earlier email to the News, Karma Rescue’s Director of Operation, Alex Tonner said “It’s therapeutically calming to pet a dog. Dogs help humans reduce stress. Studies show that interactions with therapy animals can decrease stress in humans.”
Playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol. These hormonal changes can help an anxious teen feel more relaxed with testing. Reducing stress also has added physical health benefits.
Karma Rescue brought the four dogs, which are specially trained and have received the CGC (Canine Good Citizen) Certification, to the school for students to pet.
In order to receive the CGC, dogs must 1) accept a friendly stranger; 2) sit politely for petting; 3) allow basic grooming procedures; 4) walk on a loose lead; 5) walk through a crowd; 6) sit and lie down on command and stay in place; 7) come when called; 8) react appropriately with another dog; 9) react appropriately to another dog; 10) calmly endure supervised separation from an owner.
All four animals were Pitbull mix and Shyann Swisher was asked about the breed’s reputation.
“They love humans and are bred to please,” said Swisher, who owns Pitbull’s. “They were known as the nanny dog and we really want to make pit bulls ambassadors for their breed.”
Courage was rescued on 9/11. He had been thrown from a car window on the 10 Freeway. The Pitbull/mastiff/lab mix. escaped without any serious injuries, and its tail was wagging when students started to come up to him.
“Karma rescues large breeds,” Swisher said, “and put them in programs like this.”
Fletcher, a Pitbull/boxer mix, was with his owner James Babbin who said, “We go around to as many events as we can.” Fletcher made himself at home, snacking on some grass and rolling in the ivy.”
Gigi was a Pitbull/terrier mix and Swade was mostly Pitbull. All were sweet and waited patiently for the kids to come over and pet them.
For more information, visit karmarescue.org.