Can MHS Therapy Dogs Help You Earn “A”s in College?

By Abbey Schoenfeld
Joey visits KSC Adv Mrkt Class Titled

Monadnock Humane Society’s Therapy Dog program provides more than dog visits to make people feel better. Its teams can also assist in scientific research, attend photo shoots, and help raise a student’s homework grade. According to Keene State College junior Mason Robbins, the mood in his Complementary Health Practices class was “noticeably happier and more alert when the students entered the room and met the dogs.” He and his project partner, Heather Aldrich, were making a presentation on the impact of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) as the culmination of their semester’s work. He reached out to Monadnock Humane Society, and volunteers Luci Byrnes and Ann Richards put the class on their schedules. Their registered therapy dogs Mea (a Miniature Pinscher/Beagle mix) and Gus (a Pembroke Corgi) spent about thirty minutes in the class, providing the students with a hands-on experience of the power of AAT.

Also at Keene State College (KSC), students in the Public Relations Practice class (an upper-level Journalism course) have spent the semester doing practical work helping Monadnock Humane Society develop a marketing communications plan. When KSC needed to illustrate an article highlighting the collaboration, they turned to the MHS Therapy Dog program to provide some dogs in the classroom for the photo shoot. MHS volunteers Deb Harmon and Carol Meehan brought their registered therapy dogs Joey (a Newfoundland) and Jasmine (a Golden Retriever.)

AAT Effectiveness Study

In a semester-long project at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH, two MHS volunteers participated in scientific research aimed at quantifying the impact of therapy dog visits. Health Sciences major Brian Tranfaglia contacted MHS in February, looking for assistance. MHS Volunteers Helene Rogers and Donna Anderson with their registered therapy dogs Ross (an All American) and Tellie (a Golden Retriever) agreed to help with a project on the effects of dogs and stress in for Tranfaglia’s Research Methods class. Thirty six students were faced with an exam in Kinesiology—surely a stressor if ever there was one.  Half were able to spend time with the dogs prior to taking the test. The experiment had two trials—in February and again in March—and the results were significant lowering of heart rate and self-perceived stress in the students who met with the dogs.  Tranfaglia reported his team’s findings at FPU’s Academic Showcase on April 13, 2016.

Monadnock Humane Society’s Therapy Dog program helps region residents learn about therapy dog work, and assists pet owners to prepare their dogs to pass the therapy dog registration process.  The program further connects Therapy Dog teams with facilities and individuals looking for dogs to make visits. A monthly meeting on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Training Center at Monadnock Humane Society’s Adoption and Learning Center is open and free to the public. For more information, check our website or contact Amee Abel, MHS Community Outreach Coordinator at or (603) 352-9011 ext 135.