Nellis to host free Therapy Dog Event

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dwane Young
  • 57th Wing Public Affairs

A free Therapy Dog Event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 7 in the first-floor dayroom of the base dorm building 775.

Thirty therapy dogs and handlers from Alliance for Therapy Dogs (ATD) will provide therapeutic services to aid the mental and emotional health of active-duty military members, spouses, and family members assigned to Nellis and Creech Air Force bases.

“I know there have been some issues with mental and emotional health in the Air Force,” said Senior Airman Rachel Rhoads, a medical laboratory technician assigned to the 99th Medical Support Squadron and volunteer with ATD. “A lot of Airmen have been thinking of creative ways to help, and I think therapy dogs would be a good idea.”

Attendees can expect opportunities to engage with the therapy dogs, talk to handlers and watch an agility demonstration.

“Petting a dog releases an endorphin in your brain called oxytocin, which is your body’s natural hormone to help you relax,” said Rhoads. “Petting a dog can lower your blood pressure, reduce depression, and alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness.”

Rhoads organized the event to educate Nellis Airmen on the importance of animal assisted therapy for those in need.

“I went to a hospice facility and witnessed a woman crying because she didn’t have her dog,” said Rhoads, who has a 10-year-old Hairless Chinese Crested therapy dog, Cruella. “She cried, ‘I don’t want to die alone.’ It struck me how important her dog was to her, and the effect animals can have on people. That moment impacted me and inspired me to get more involved with therapy animals.”

Rhoads and Cruella worked for six weeks to complete their certification through ATD. The process involved three supervised visits to various facilities where Rhoads had to show the control and confidence of her dog. Cruella was tested on her comfort level in different environments and noise levels, and her ability to be around individuals in wheelchairs and on crutches.

Animal assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs and other animals to help people recover from and cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders.

“I hope this therapy dog program can have the same impact for Airmen and their families,” said Rhoads.

For more information on the event, send an email to