Dentist’s dog helps calm anxious young patients’ nerves

(Photo courtesy Reddit)
Dr. Paul Weiss, a paediatric dentist from Williamsville, New York, has trained his dog, Brooke, to act as a therapy dog at his dental practice.

If a child is nervous about an appointment, the gentle canine will sit at his/her side.

A photo of Brooke resting her head on a child's lab during a dental cleaning recently went viral on Reddit.

"If a child is afraid of getting her teeth cleaned, Brooke can sit next to them in the chair and the kid can have their hand on the dog," Weiss told Buffalo Business First in September.

"The gratification of taking a nervous child and turning them into someone who's comfortable at a dentist's office is really something great," he added.

He told Buffalo Business First that Brooke, a four-year-old Golden Retriever, visits the office on Thursdays, and is accompanied by a human staff member at all times. Sometimes she just plays fetch with the children. At other times, she's called upon to calm them.

Brooke is bathed before each visit. The office is scrubbed down after she leaves.

"Patients look to come back on a Thursday," Weiss said. "If demand increases, we may have to up her hours."

"Like all therapy dogs, Brooke was required to pass a rigorous training program and evaluation. She mastered basic obedience and proved she is able to accept common medical appliances, clumsy handling (petting) and various distractions. Therapy dogs have been shown to ease tensions, lower blood pressure and increase positive attitudes," Weiss' website explains. "Knowing Brooke's temperament, Dr. Paul recognized an opportunity to offer another source of comfort to his patients and increased relaxation to the office atmosphere. Brooke has become a celebrity with patients, who now make it a point to schedule their appointments on Thursday, now known as 'Brooke Day.'"

Some of Weiss' patients saw the photo on Reddit and had nothing but praise for the dentist:

"He really is great. I have been going to him my whole life and his whole office is fantastic. I am friends with the receptionist and I just feel so welcomed there. And the Dr. is great, I've been going to him my whole life so he knows who I am, and my brothers used to go there too," nursingstudent wrote.