We brought Attitudes in Reverse to our campus for Welcome Week in August. This five-day program for our new students has over 100 mandatory and optional sessions, and so many of them are nervous and anxious about starting college, in addition to missing their pets from home! The line to spend a few minutes with the AIR dogs and teams wrapped around the entire second floor of our student center and is one of our most popular events every year. I can’t thank AIR enough for their partnership, and I can’t wait to bring them back in December to provide a little stress relief during finals.
AIR Dogs: Paws For Minds Therapy Dogs Program
This is a comprehensive program highlighting how dogs are good for our mental health. Dogs and handlers are trained and certified to work with students in several ways.
All AIR Dog handlers are asked to be Youth Mental Health First Aid certified.
The AIR Dogs program evaluators tests and certify dogs with a specific focus on mental wellness, specifically for youth.
- AIR Programs- Therapy Dogs accompany AIR volunteers during all AIR mental health programming, from elementary through college-age. Discussing mental health and suicide prevention can be difficult topics. After the presentation students are encouraged to meet with the dogs to help them de-stress after what could have been a difficult, possibly triggering, program.
At one school a young woman was triggered by the suicide prevention discussion. She was in tears but refused to talk to a counselor. With less than 5 minutes of interacting with a dog, this young woman stopped crying and left the auditorium with the counselor.
- AIR Facility Therapy Dogs - AIR Dog certified trainers and evaluators work with school personnel to prepared teams to work as facility therapy dogs. Training is for the human, as well as the canine, to ensure that all training provides a safe, beneficial environment for students, staff and dogs. Personnel can include school counselors who use Animal Assisted Therapy and build the dog into the treatment plan for the student.
- AIR ESA Dogs – AIR Dogs can assist those looking to train and certify an Emotional Support Animal under the Fair Housing Act (HUD).
- AIR Crisis Support Dogs- In the wake of a tragedy AIR Dog volunteers travel to schools to share their dogs with grieving students and faculty. When the dogs enter the facility, there is a change in atmosphere. Students sit on the floor with the dogs, and the counselors sit on the floor with students and the healing can begin.
- AIR Awareness Therapy Dogs-Certified Therapy Dogs attend community events, helping to break down communication barriers and start many conversations about good mental health and suicide prevention. This includes school mental wellness events.
Speaker Tricia Baker, CPDT-KA, Therapy Dog Evaluator, Canine Good Citizen Evaluator & Certified Mental Health First Aider presents Paws for Wellness. To find out information on this one-hour presentation covering the benefits of support animals please reach out to Tricia@AIR.ngo.
TESTIMONIALS: AIR® DOGS
The importance of having a dog in memory care can be seen immediately. The moment a wagging tail walks through the door, smiles plaster on our residents’ faces. Having the ability to pet the dog, cuddle, & even play, brings back powerful memories. Those are the moments that are treasured. A dog truly does leave footprints on our hearts.
It was such a wonderful visit! Just taking the dogs to the office, we were stopped multiple times by students and adults in the building who just lit up and asked to pet them. The students were so excited to see the dogs and were so amazed that we were able to have them in the school for them.
One young man said “This is the only time you will see my sensitive side – when I am with animals, I am happy.” Another student came back to our office upset later in the day and said she had been having a really rough day but when she came during lunch and saw the dogs, they made her feel calm and happy and she was okay to make it through most of her day. Our staff members said it was like a gift for them to have the dogs in the office during the day – they said they thought is meant as much to them as it did to the students. Our principal said she wants the dogs here all of the time!
We love having the AIR therapy dogs visiting our community. The dogs bring moments of pure joy and peace to our residents. The ability to connect to another warm, living being is priceless and definitely improves the emotional well-being of our residents. We love working with your organization.
Finding ‘just the right dog’ for my 11-year-old son Matthew through the AIR Dogs: Paws for Minds program has made a significant positive impact for a boy challenged by the daily struggles of living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, depression and anxiety.
Matthew seemingly steps outside of his social awkwardness with his dog Roxie by his side, speaking freely about Roxie’s mixed breed, combination French Bulldog and Beagle, Frengle. Matthew discusses how ‘dogs are good for our mental health’. Typically preferring to spend time with canines over other kids, Matthew happily attends AIR awareness events, seizing the opportunity to showcase Roxie and hang with other dog lovers.