Therapy Dogs

Have Chicago’s never-ending winters got you down? Are you stressed out about your midterms, relationships, or finances? Do you ever feel like you just need a hug? Well, help is on the way. Therapy dogs from the Canine Therapy Corps return to the Columbia Library on Tuesday, March 6, 4 – 6 p.m., 624 S. Michigan, 3rd floor north. The event also features art supplies to create drawings of dogs for a future library exhibition, as well as a variety of board games.

Therapy dogs are specially trained to provide comfort and affection to individuals in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, veteran centers, and during stressful or challenging situations like natural disasters. According to the Mayo Clinic, therapy dogs can decrease hormone levels associated with stress, lessen depression and fatigue, and improve people’s overall sense of happiness and wellbeing.

Canine Therapy Corps has been providing animal-assisted therapy free of charge in the Chicago area since 1991. Therapy dogs work as a team with their handlers. There are approximately 65 volunteer teams working in the Chicago area for Canine Therapy Corps. According to the organization’s website, they provide more than 1,400 hours of therapy to more than 5,000 individuals in the Chicago area annually.

The organization offers certification tests, and practice sessions, for prospective therapy dogs and handlers. Canine Therapy Corps also tailors its programs to meet the special therapeutic needs of the population being served. Therapy dogs are different from service dogs, which are special training to assist individuals with disabilities.

The Library began bringing therapy dogs to Columbia two times a year in Fall 2014. In 2017, therapy dogs began visiting the library twice a semester. Therapy dogs will return to the Columbia Library on Wednesday May 2, 2 – 4 p.m. during the annual Destress Fest.

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