This week, a Covid vaccine clinic in Newburyport, Massachusetts opened up appointments for 12 to 15-year-olds. Most people don’t love getting shots, but kids especially have a hard time getting needles in their arms. Fortunately for the kids attending the clinic at this middle school, someone would be by their side supporting them.
That helpful someone wasn’t a medical professional, but rather a comfort professional. Dice the service dog was there at the clinic, ready to comfort the young patients coming through. The black Lab let them know they could pet her all they wanted if it calmed their anxieties.
How A Therapy Dog Helps Ease Vaccine Anxieties
16-year-old Nathalia Cintron arrived at the middle school for her second shot. The first shot had been difficult for her, so she wasn’t looking forward to the second either. She told NBC News:
“I don’t like needles at all. The first shot, I’ll admit, I had to hug my mom because I almost cried.”
In a completely opposite experience, Cintron’s second shot ended up memorable and even pleasant. Because, she explained:
“I love dogs so much it just made my day.”
Dice’s handler, Pam Shedd, said the dog’s presence was so calming the kids barely even noticed the needles.
“The kids will say, ‘It’s done?’ and it’s like they don’t even know they’re getting the shot, because they’re so busy looking at her.”
According to Shedd, it was “a joy” to see Dice hard at work comforting and distracting.
A Grateful Community
Naturally, Dice’s presence helped more than just the young patients. A therapy dog’s skills can help adults, too, as some pointed out online.
“Dice was quite the star in our Sunday morning clinic! She eased some adults as well!” – Dixie Patterson via Facebook
“Therapy dogs rule, and now is their time to shine.” – Lana Hebert via Facebook
Dice will continue to stop by clinics cheering up patients, as her services are obviously very welcome. She also regularly supports the students at Pentucket Regional Middle School – lucky kids! She’s so beloved; she even got her own page in the middle school yearbook.
Dice proves the value of a therapy dog, whose skills can be applied to many situations. This past year has been very rough, and even as we emerge from the pandemic, a dog’s love can really help ease the pain. Plus, how cute is she?