Therapy dogs offer a helping paw to young and old

"Service dogs are a companion for one person and is very individualized to that person while a therapy dog is a comfort dog that is used to dealing with lots of people," said Rogers. "It can take up to two years to train a therapy dog."

Rogers said it's a concept that is being put to use more and more.

"Alzheimer's patients are very comfortable with dogs. Sometimes a patient could be staring off into space and will reach out and start automatically petting a dog next them," she said. "I see it growing all the time."

Lampila said Solange's calming effect could lower a person's heart rate and blood pressure by simply being in their presence.

"They seem to be connected with their human pack and they like things to be calm," she said about Solange's ability to pick up on human subtleties and tension well before voices are raised. "It's really an amazing thing and there's benefits to the staff as well."

Solange doesn't just walk into a job, either. She has to be interviewed just like everybody else.

"We went to the elementary school and she was interviewed by the principal and librarian and then the teachers," Lampila said. "One little girl twirls her ear and another boy just pets her the whole time.

"All we do is make reading fun," she said.


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