US Air Force Academy says therapy dogs make cadets happy and reduce stress


It’s been said that the best therapist has four legs and fur. And while this claim is often thrown around as a light-hearted quip, recent findings suggest that dogs really are a human’s best friend.

According to the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), crisis and airport dogs make cadets happy and help lower their stress levels.

For the last 12 years, crisis and airport dogs from GO TEAM Therapy, an active group of handler/therapy dog teams working in states across the US, have made regular visits to the academy.

“As freshmen adapt to the rigors of cadet life, they find reprieve through interactions with the dogs,” the USAFA said in a news post on its website.

image: USAFA

The furry therapists appear at the academy for holidays, during finals week, and at noon meal formation, among other occasions.

“When the Academy loses a cadet or staff member, therapy dogs visit the Cadet Wing to comfort those grieving,” said Go Team Founder and Executive Director, Nancy Trepagnier.

Aside from providing comfort during times of crisis or stress, the therapy dogs also help cadets who miss their own dogs.

“A lot of cadets have pets at home they’re missing, and the dogs help to fill the void,” Cadet 3rd Class Laura de Leon told USAFA. “I’m petting a dog. It may not be my dog, but it makes me happy.”

All GO TEAM crisis and airport dogs have passed the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Canine Good Citizen test and have undergone a two-day test involving real life situations such as TSA airport security drills, elevator/stair drills, airport comfort and interacting with first responders.

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