Bring-your-dog-to-work day has expanded to the U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha, Nebraska, where USA Swimming has enlisted the services of therapy dogs in an effort to reduce stress and -- hopefully -- improve the athletes' performance.
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Nonprofit organization Domesti-PUPS is providing four to five canines per shift to help keep athletes calm as they compete. NBC Olympics reports that USA Swimming Programs and Services Manager Morgan Weinberg thought to invite the organization after reading that looking into a dog's eyes can help reduce anxiety.
The experiment has reportedly been a big hit; one swimmer even told her parents she swam her best time after spending time with a dog and would integrate pup-therapy into her swim-prep routine, according to NBC.
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Based in Lincoln, Domesti-PUPS also has pet-therapy program in St. Joseph, Missouri, as well as Omaha. The organization provides therapy dogs and service dogs for people with disabilities and trained rescue dogs. The dogs are trained for mobility support, wheelchair assistance and seizure response.
Domesti-PUPS works with the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women and Omaha's Youth Correctional Facility, to provide vocational training programs for inmates. Inmate handlers train service dogs for a minimum of 250 hours. The organization also trains shelter dogs for adoption though Domesti-PUPS.
What Do YOU Think?
Do you think the idea of athletes using therapy dogs is a good one? Have you or anyone you know had experience using a therapy animal to treat health conditions? What do you do to relieve anxiety? Tell us about it in the comments!