OXNARD, Calif. -- It’s been more than a year since therapy dogs have been able to serve the Oxnard Union High School District due to the pandemic. On Thursday, the dogs were back in business.
Seven and Paige Turner are doing what they do best, making people smile. The two Australian Shepherds are the official therapy dogs for the Oxnard Union High School District. But since the pandemic, the dogs weren’t able to do their jobs.
“Last year when COVID hit, Therapy Dog International which I am associated with canceled all visits,” said Susan Hartzler, the therapy dog's owner. “And this is our first visit in a year. He loves this. As you can see he is looking for the kids.”
Pacifica High School invited Susan Hartzler and her dogs to be part of their health fair.
“The school district is really great,” said Hartzler. “One of the things they have is they have us come for an hour because actually there has been studies of how petting dogs can improve a person's health.”
The students gathered around, taking pictures and petting the dogs. Hartzler says this simple act relieves a lot of stress.
“They take this seriously,” said Hartzler. “When we leave they are as tired as if we ran 5 miles.”
Hartzler is excited to bring her dogs to all of the schools in the district again, and leave students with a little more knowledge too.
“I always try to teach kids the right way to pet a dog and the right way to give them treats,” said Hartzler. “For some reason dogs can smell fear in people so the kids that are afraid of dogs are the ones that the dogs go after, mine don’t, so this is a really important way to build the bond between humans and pets.”