Students’ Thoughts on the Exam Service Dogs

Lindsey Schmidt and Anna Davis

Last week, during exams, Arrowhead allowed students to visit service dogs in the library to help with the stress of exam taking. Between one and three dogs were present in both the North and South campus libraries. In 2022, there were a total of 14 dogs while in 2023 there were a total of 4 dogs. 


Stress during exam season is prevalent for students, according to Queensland Government. There can be a range of symptoms including loss of appetite or headaches. It is extremely common for both high school students and college students and, though there are ways to cope during exam week, many are for the lead-up to the big day.


“Having to study for all my exams is pretty stressful,” senior Olivia Schmidt said.


The Alliance of Therapy Dogs notes that therapy dogs have been around since the 1960s. Doctor Boris Levinson found that his personal dog positively affected his patients and began to research therapy animals.


Senior Mia Gaymein says, “They were cute.”


Mike Ward, a retired guidance counselor at Arrowhead and a prominent handler, was interviewed by WISN in 2015 on his work with Arrowhead and the therapy dogs, and he stated how he wanted to “bring a smile” to the faces of Arrowhead students. 


“I loved the therapy dogs,” said senior Kate Sprinkman.


This year’s lineup of therapy dogs included Fergus, Tully, Roxie, and Mac who were handled by Hope Erickson, Carol Pasbrig, Kathryn Engel, and Kerry Luderus respectively. The handlers are all volunteers picked by Associate Principal Becky Gordon.


Gordon requires they, “provide proof of training and proof of insurance before they are allowed to attend.” 


The first ever recorded therapy dog was a Yorkshire Terrier named Smokey. Smokey was a war dog whose owner, Corporal William Wayne, flew around in the airforce with her. When Wayne fell ill, Smokey really became a therapy dog and helped him through the illness. 


Many dogs would soon follow Smokey’s example, now totaling around 200,000 therapy dogs in America, according to The Zebra