In the hustle and bustle of modern life, the gentle nuzzle of a furry friend can be incredibly comforting. This is especially true in structured environments like classrooms where stress and pressure are commonplace. Welcome to our podcast, "Sh!t That Goes On In Our Heads," where we delve into fascinating topics that bring light to the complexities of human emotions and behaviors. In today's engaging episode titled "Canine Compassion: Exploring Animal-Assisted Therapy with Barb and Carmel," we uncover the heartwarming world of therapy dogs in educational settings.

Healing Paws: The Role of Therapy Dogs in Education

Our guest, Barb, an advocate for dog therapy in schools, shares the profound impact therapy dogs like Carmel have on children, teachers, and parents. She illustrates how the educational system benefits from the presence of these compassionate canines. According to Barb, these benefits include improved well-being and enhanced academic performance across various age groups.

The hosts, G-Rex and Dirty Skittles, share their interactions with dogs and the broader notion of animal-assisted intervention. Dirty Skittles humorously recounts an allergic reaction to a furry mate, opening up a conversation about the practicalities and limitations of animal-assisted therapy.

More Than Just Dogs

Barb explains that while dogs are common, therapy animals extend beyond the canine species, except creatures like spiders, which cannot follow commands. Therapy animals must respond to their handler to ensure a safe and controlled environment.

Cats and ADHD: A Comforting Connection

Wrapping up the episode, Barb touches upon the calming influence of cats, particularly for individuals with ADHD. She discusses a student planning to have a therapy cat in college, shedding light on how therapy animals support various needs.

Global Pawprints

Barb does not limit her discussion to the United States. Therapy dogs are making strides in various countries, changing atmospheres and energies in classrooms worldwide. The international footprint of therapy dogs showcases the universal language of compassion.

Inner City Schools and Furry Educators

G-Rex probes Barb on the potential for therapy dogs to uplift children in underserved areas. Barb shares compelling anecdotes about how the mere presence of such dogs positively alters learning environments—their discussion points to a need for expanded access to these programs in diverse educational settings.

How to Start Your Therapy Dog Program

Our hosts express interest in the practical aspects of integrating therapy dogs into their own lives. Barb offers insight, recommends resources, and gives pragmatic advice on starting therapy dog programs.

She also shares her book on Amazon, which focuses on innovative teacher-therapy dog collaborations. This resource could be a starter kit for those inspired by our conversation.

Dogs and Education at Home

Digressing from classroom settings, Barb elucidates the role dogs play in amplifying at-home educational activities. She advocates for involving children's interests in learning, which can dramatically increase engagement and retention—a tip that parents tuning in will find invaluable.

## Associations and Certification

For those considering integrating therapy animals into professional environments, Barb references organizations like the Association of Animal Assisted Intervention Professionals (AAAIP) and Therapy Dogs International, offering paths for certification and resources to get started.

A Growing Trend and Mini-Conference

Barb underscores the burgeoning awareness of the therapy dog movement in educational systems. She announces an upcoming mini-conference for administrators interested in incorporating therapy animals into their districts. This symposium, hosted online on February 29th for a nominal fee, signifies how mainstream the concept has become.

Barb's Mission: Blending Passion with Profession

Our guest reveals that integrating her advocacy for animal-assisted therapy into her curriculum has revitalized her job as a college professor. This personal note from Barb inspires our listeners to intertwine their passions with their careers.

Carmel's Story: From Family Pet to Therapy Dog

A touching part of the podcast is when Barb recounts how Carmel, initially a family pet, trained to become a compassionate therapy dog. Carmel now plays a crucial role in the classroom, helping children with general and special educational needs.

Lessons Learned and Key Takeaways

- **Animal companionship has a tangibly positive effect on learning environments.** Therapy dogs can reduce anxiety, boost academic performance, and foster a sense of empathy among students.

 - **Therapy animals are for everyone.** The bond between humans and animals transcends age, disability, and socioeconomic status.

 - **Creativity enhances learning.** Incorporating therapy animals into literacy and kindness programs, for example, has facilitated increased student participation and engagement.

 - **Accessible resources.** Resources and communities are available for those interested in adopting therapy animals professionally or personally.

Following the "Sh!t That Goes On In Our Heads" Podcast

Our journey into the minds of humans and the soothing presence of therapy animals has been enlightening, to say the least. If you've been nodding along, entranced by the paws-abilities of animal-assisted therapy, don't let the conversation stop here.

Follow us, G-Rex and Dirty Skittles, on our podcast "Sh!t That Goes On In Our Heads" for more eye-opening discussions. If you haven't yet, subscribe on your preferred podcast platform—Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Podcasts. Don't forget to leave us a rating and review. Your feedback helps us grow and supports our mission to delve deeper into the intricate workings of the mind.

By exploring themes like canine compassion, we endeavor to offer new perspectives that can enhance your mental well-being and daily life. Dive in with us. We promise a journey filled with curiosity, laughter, and learning.

Every episode, conversation, and story is a step toward understanding what happens in our heads. Until next time, keep pondering, keep feeling, and keep listening.