By Dr. Tracey Zeiner (pictured below with Nibs) is an assistant professor at Arkansas Colleges of Health Education School of Occupational Therapy and the handler for Canine Companions Facility Dog Nibs.
In response to Covid-19, many employees at Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE), including Nibs and me, were fortunate to be allowed to work from home from March 17 to June 1, 2020. However, social isolation can be difficult for both humans and their canine companions. You see, Nibs is a working facility dog from Canine Companions for Independence, and she enjoys working with a variety of people every day. Staying home for her was boring and depressing.
The CDC (2020) reports that returning to work after a quarantine can be stressful and lists the following as emotions that may be experienced:
- mixed emotions, including relief after quarantine
- fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- stress from the experience of monitoring yourself or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
- sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious
- guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during quarantine
- other emotional or mental health changes
Nibs and I voluntarily returned to work on May 27, 2020, and Nibs could not have been happier. She ran through the lobby to greet our police officer and our building and grounds staff cheerfully wagging her tail. When the majority returned to work on June 1, 2020, Nibs was in demand. Did you know that being with animals provides health benefits? Working with Nibs can provide the following:
- improved heart health
- decreased stress and anxiety
- decreased feelings of loneliness
- improved socialization
- improved attention
- improved oxygen saturation
- decreased pain
- improved quality of life
We applaud those workplaces that allow special dogs to be a part of the team. Especially during this time of added stress, our canine coworkers offer peace amidst the pandemic.
ACHE Admissions team (pictured L-R; Kelly DeWitt, LaTisha Standokes, Savanna Robison, & Janie Price) taking a break during a conference to improve their health and well-being.