DERRY — These four young ladies sure know how to offer some comfort and care when needed most.
And the fact that they all are friendly, furry and ready to help is an added bonus.
For patients at Haas Dental Associates in Derry, it’s a way to make patients of all ages relax and feel comfortable as they face dental procedures.
There’s Holly, Ellie, Willow and Ms. Edith, all ready to pitch in for some care and comfort as trained dental comfort dogs.
And that means learning all about being there for young patients who may be worried about dental exams or other treatments.
Staff members at Haas Dental take time to teach the pups how to get along with people as part of the training, with staff taking the dogs on regular walks around the property and then taking them home after a long day on the job.
Haas has had dental comfort dogs before.
There was Honey and Betty who put in their time to make the dental practice a welcome and comfortable spot for patients of all ages.
Now, the four pups currently on the job take turns coming to the Derry office to put in their time, often cuddling with a young patient about to undergo a procedure or just offering an opportunity for someone to touch their curly fur or pat their nose to help make the visit more enjoyable.
Part of the pups’ training is also becoming acclimated to the many sights and sounds of a typical dental office.
That includes the many sounds of the equipment that are part of a dental practice.
The training helps the pups remain calm when noises are evident, helping desensitize the dogs so they can work their therapeutic magic on any patient in need.
And when they are in the Derry office, the dogs know they are on duty, staff says.
Sometimes there are multiple dogs on the job at the same time. Others have staggered days off to just to enjoy being dogs.
It’s not just the children asking to have the dogs at their side during a visit.
“The adults here ask for them as well,” said longtime Haas staffer Tracey Pinault.
It might be just a quick touch of the soft fur, or perhaps a longer visit that makes the comfort dog experience enjoyable, Pinault added.
Dogs may just sit quietly at the side of the chair or on some occasions, the dogs may curl up in a child’s lap for a while, and even remain there during a dental procedure.
“Some want to pet them, some want to take them home,” said Dr. Amanda Kramer, an orthodontist at the Haas practice.
Kramer added the dogs are exposed to all kinds of people, and their dental experiences and work hard to make the visit a good one.
“And they get used to them every day,” she said.
The comfort dogs also need their breaks during a hard day’s work at the office.
That includes a quick walk with a staffer or just some quiet time spent in another room away from patients.
And having the four pups in the office is not just for the dental patients.
The staff love them and their calming effects as well.
“It’s therapy for us, too,” Pinault said, adding the Haas practice is among the first in the area to utilize comfort dogs during a dental day.
With people often associating centrists with anxiety or other feelings, having a cute, cuddly pup on site may be just the thing to add a layer of comfort and joy to those patients.
“When they see the dogs are here, it’s great at calming those fears,” Kramer said. “It’s a very important distraction.”