High school can be a tough time for any student. Between homework and exams, the school year can get stressful.

But staff in the Binghamton City School District had an idea - weekly visits from therapy dogs.




"It's nice at bigger days around stressful times like finals and regents, but at the same time, sometimes it's just making it part of the ordinary, and just on a Wednesday that it might be nice to have the dogs in the building," said Binghamton High School Social Worker Kate Monachino.

The canines visit classrooms to see students, and work with social workers throughout the day. So far, it's been a huge success.

"They'll be walking by and say they're anxious or upset. They see a dog, and immediately their blood pressure goes down, their whole demeanor is calmer, and they want to just give the dog love," said Binghamton High School Social Worker Mary Barta.

The four-legged-friends are brought in by volunteers with Bark-9 and Therapy Dogs 607.

"By the time we leave, it's better,” said volunteer Kevin O’Brien. “Everybody seems to love that big cuddly dog.”

"It just warms my heart,” said Paulette Weinheimer, another volunteer. “I really enjoy seeing the kids and she enjoys seeing the kids, and just to know that we came and gave our time back to the community and knowing that we may have brightened someone's day makes us feel good.”

Social workers say at times, students may have trouble verbalizing what's bothering them, but often times the dogs help them find the words.

"If a student is so upset that they can't express how they're feeling, or they don't know how they're feeling or if a child is on the spectrum, they can't get their feelings out easily,” Barta said. “When you have a dog there, it's much easier.”

The therapy dogs also visit local nursing homes and hospitals.