Prospect's Counseling Assistance Dog



Why did Prospect develop a Counseling Assistance Dog program?

As part of our ongoing efforts to provide supportive counseling services to students at Prospect HS, we have partnered with Interquest Detection Canines to implement an innovative program here at Prospect. Interquest has provided a professionally trained dog to be utilized in the counseling offices and eventually throughout the school. In past years, the counseling office achieved many solid successes in an experimental pilot program, working with Dandy, a retired safety dog. We now want to build on those successes to formalize and expand the program. Working with Interquest, we have developed a program to use a trained, professional, counseling assistance dog. Junie will be under the care and supervision of Dr. Lynn Thornton, Prospect Counselor, and Doug Berg, Prospect School Social Worker. Lynn and Doug are certified as dog handlers and will receive ongoing consultation and support from Glenn VandeBonCoeur and Kim Heys from Interquest. Junie’s physical well-being will be monitored by Dr. Janine Williams, DVM at Palatine Family Pet Care, LLC.

Trained dogs are being used in a wide variety of settings to help support mental health. Many colleges are using dogs during finals week, or as a resource in their libraries or counseling centers, to help reduce stress. Dogs are being used by the military for victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and are often seen visiting in hospitals to improve the mood of patients. More and more clinical therapists are also using animal assisted therapy in their private practice.

Who is Junie?

Junie is a young female Golden Retriever, and she is a PhD (Perpetually Happy Dog!). She was initially raised in a service dog agency, but experienced a "career change" because of an unusual job limitation: she did not like to wear her service dog vest! When it was determined that she could not work in that service dog program, Interquest obtained her with the goal of transitioning her into work as a counseling dog. During her initial evaluation and training period, she demonstrated a strong intuition for working with kids. She was then placed into a customized training program. She successfully completed her preliminary training in Grand Rapids, Michigan and came to Prospect on October 11, 2012. She is located in the Prospect Student Services office and comes to Prospect every school day.

How does Junie help?

Junie is here to:

  1. help reduce stress, anxiety and depression
  2. help process grief and loss
  3. help students open up about issues impacting them
  4. improve students’ readiness for instruction
  5. improve social skills
  6. help make the counseling office a more welcoming and inviting place

Research has shown that:

  1. Petting or playing with a dog increases production of the stress-reducing hormone, oxytocin
  2. Petting or playing with a dog decreases production of the stress hormone, cortisol
  3. Petting or playing with a dog has shown to decrease blood pressure

Where can I find more information about how dogs are being used to improve mental health?


For more information contact Doug Berg or Dr. Lynn Thornton.