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Furry Friends, Therapy Dogs at NMH

Sept. 15, 2022 — For students who are missing their pets or who just want to spend time with a friendly furry creature, it’s Beamer to the rescue! 

Today, Beamer, a 6-year-old certified therapy dog, will begin his weekly “NMH residency” at the O’Connor Health and Wellness Center, NMH Director of Counseling Johanna Callard announced at Monday’s all-school meeting. 

Accompanied by his handler and NMH history teacher Chris Edler, Beamer — a very friendly, very gentle, and very, very soft and fluffy goldendoodle — will be available to visit with students in a conference room in the counseling services wing of the campus health center. For a little love from Beamer, students can simply walk in during D block from 2:25 to 3:35 pm each Thursday afternoon. 

Beamer, certified therapy dog.

“Animals reach us in a different way,” NMH Mental Health Counselor Michael Carter said. “It’s not through the intellect, but through the intelligence of the body — like a heart or a soul connection. Animals make us feel good because it’s a creature who wants nothing from us in a way that a human does. They don’t judge. They don’t have expectations or needs from us except for us to be with them. And they give it right back to us.”

Beamer is no stranger to NMH. Last week, he spent Friday afternoon visiting with students in the Wayback of the library, along with his fellow furry friend and therapy dog, Kali, who lives with religious studies and philosophy teacher Susan Kennedy. 

“The NMH library has a long history of bringing in therapy dogs during midterms and finals as a kind of outreach and support for students who might be having a stressful time,” said Alexis Arcaro, NMH’s public services librarian. “This year, I wanted to start this a bit earlier to see if the dogs could help students who might be experiencing homesickness. Many students here are coming from very far away and it’s often the first time away from their family and pets for an extended period of time.”

Edler got Beamer as an 8-week-old puppy with the goal of training him as a therapy dog. She said she chose Beamer because his temperament made him well suited for the role. “He is gentle and calm and also friendly and engaging — and he loves people,” she said. And, she said, because he’s part poodle, his coat is somewhat hypoallergenic. 

After several years of specialized training, Beamer was certified as a therapy dog in 2018. “This is his job, and he loves his job,” Edler said. “He loves being the center of attention.”

Lennie Colart ’23, who is a new student at NMH this year, visited Beamer and Kali in the library last week because she was missing her own dog at home in France. “Seeing them makes me feel comfortable,” she said. “I feel more relaxed. And I can take some pictures of the dogs and send them to my family to show them.” 

After she graduates NMH, Colart plans to study pre-medicine in college in the United States. But, for now, even though she’s a little homesick and misses her dog, she said seeing therapy dogs at NMH is helping. And, she’s already planning more visits with Beamer. 

“Definitely, I’ll be there every Thursday,” she said.

For more information about NMH Counseling Services:
Students can access counseling services at NMH from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday by walking into the O’Connor Health and Wellness Center. They can also make an appointment with one of the school’s four independently licensed counselors by emailing counseling@nmhschool.org. Counselors are on call weeknights and weekends to support students who need to see a counselor on an urgent basis. NMH provides short- and long-term care for no extra charge; counseling is included in students’ health services fee.

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