Pet Project

Late last month, the NASH lunch periods were visited by some rather furry friends.


Kat Klinefelter

The Therapets soaked up the affection during their visit with NASH students in the auditorium foyer on January 27th and 30th.

Brady Crow, Staff Writer

On an ordinary Friday afternoon, nothing stands in the way of a NASH high schooler getting his or her lunch.  Students rush through the halls, zip down the stairs, and excitedly rush to find their friend’s table.  However, when NASH was visited by some unexpected guests, the student body stopped dead in its tracks to meet them.

On Friday the 27th and Monday the 30th of January, a plethora of furry friends trotted happily into the NASH auditorium foyer.  Known as the Therapets, these dogs are an excellent team of therapy pets, trained and sponsored by Animal Friends.

The affection that animals provide to humans has been scientifically proven to positively impact mental health. Knowing this, Therapets was created with the intention of bringing comfort, along with mental and emotional relief, through the love of pets.  

Marcy Fennel is the lead trainer for Therapets.  She accompanied a six-year-old Shih Tzu named Chewie to NASH on Monday.

“The schools ask us to come in for some happiness and pet therapy in these gloomy winter months.  Dogs energize people a bit,” Fennel said.

And the dogs don’t just energize the students.  According to Fennel, “Therapets have visited nursing homes, hospitals, and even colleges at the height of exam season. College students in the middle of finals have no time to relax, so they love when the dogs visit.”

And Therapets aren’t limited to just dogs. 

“Therapets train cats, dogs, and even rabbits to visit public spaces, such as our school,” Fennel added. “They bring joy simply by visiting anyone who needs some cheering up.”

Pets are undoubtedly a part of our families, but they’re also a great form of therapy.  During the pandemic, scientists observed the positive effect pets had on mental health.  Apparently, interacting with animals releases a stress hormone called cortisol.  By petting a cat or playing fetch with a dog, stress actually exists in the mind.  Studies have even shown positive effects on those suffering from ADHD or autism. 

I really liked it because it felt relieving being able to look forward to something other than just school work.

— Abby Martin, NASH junior

Simply put, therapy dogs could be a perfect antidote for any kind of mental strain.

The Therapets’ visit brought in droves of tired students, many of whom took time out of their lunches to visit the dogs. Junior Michael Fortunato agreed with the positive aspects of therapy dogs.

“The therapy dogs were really nice and calming, and it was a fun experience to see them at school,” Fortunato said.

Similarly, junior Abby Martin enjoyed visiting during her lunch.  

“I really liked it because it felt relieving being able to look forward to something other than just school work,” she said.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to visit the Therapets during their last visit, there may still be hope.  Fennel said that both the therapy dogs and service animals enjoyed their time at NASH, leaving the possibility open for another visit in the future. 

“If the school asks us to come, we will come back.  We know it makes your day different,” Fennel said.