Students relax with therapy dog


Anna Pellegrino

Angel, service dog, will be at the school in room 114 every Friday afternoon to give comfort to students and faculty.

Many studies have shown that interactions with therapy animals can decrease stress in humans. A comfort dog named Angel will come to Central every Friday from fifth to eighth period in room 114. She is available for students, teachers, social workers, staff members or anyone in need of a hug or smile. 

Mark Stapleton, Angel’s owner, discussed the benefits a dog can give to students as well as to adults.

Anna Pellegrino
Angel lives with Mark Stapleton and his wife, who care for and train Angel to be a service dog.

“There [have] been medical studies done that prove when someone is stressed and is petting a dog their heart rate goes down as well as their blood pressure,” Stapleton said. “Angel’s heart rate goes up, she takes on your hurt, if you are in distress or [if] you have anxiety she can feel that and instantly make you feel better.”

Angel lives with Stapleton and his wife, and they go to 15 different schools in the area. Hinsdale Central was the first high school they visited with Angel but normally they go to middle schools or elementary schools.

Being in middle school is tough, and it’s arguably even harder for high school students because of the pressure. However Stapleton said it can help to pet a therapy dog like Angel because she helps people relax.

“I have anxiety and depression, and it’s just been kind of stressful with all my homework and trying to get things done,” said Sofia Galati, freshman. “Seeing Angel absolutely helps reduce my stress; I love her so much.”

Having Angel come in once a week has been shown to benefit students and help relieve the stress they gain from homework and other activities. 

“You just see a dog and want to smile, [and] it just transforms your entire day,” said Renee Koziol, a guidance counselor at Central who helps to coordinate and organize bringing Angel in. “I think it’s awesome that everyone can benefit [from] her coming.”

Research has shown the benefits of having a comfort dog to reduce stress. Koziol said students who are struggling or having a bad day can really benefit from Angel coming.

Anna Pellegrino
Student Sofia Galati, freshman, visits with Angel at noon on Friday, Sept. 20 as a way of coping with stress.

“She definitely brings [a] calming influence to whoever previously went through some trauma, she’s a reliever for that,” Koziol said.  

Angel is part of the many animals in Care Club held at Central, but she is sponsored by a neighboring church. She interacts with people in churches, schools, and nursing homes. Angel is trained to respond to disaster situations. 

The next time Angel will visit Central is on Friday, Oct. 4 between fifth and eighth period.