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Raise your right paw …

Anyone who knows me is very aware of the close bonds (aka "obsession") I have with my two dogs, Dexter and Luca. When I first meet someone, it is virtually impossible to avoid their introduction in our conversation. The dog whisperer, Cesar Millan, would shake his head at me and wag his finger in a disapproving manner. Milan has often said Americans humanize dogs to a point that is detrimental to the dogs' well-being. His logic: dogs are animals and require three things in a particular order — exercise, discipline and affection (but only after the first two are accomplished). While I understand his methodology, I find myself at odds with it often. Back in March, NPR and the New York Times covered Yale Law School's three-day trial period with Monty, a certified therapy dog offered to students for 30-minute sessions at the law library. Using a dog for stress relief does not surprise me in the least. I, for one, would definitely have felt less anxious answering a cold call in my property class if my feet were curled around Dexter's or Luca's warm and fuzzy bodies. When I had a bad day at work or school, the first "person" I would turn to was Dexter or Luca (not in any particular order). Yale's program is not the first to employ dogs in the practice of stress reduction or rehabilitation. Numerous programs across the country take advantage of dogs for therapy in nursing homes, mental institutions, and prisons. The International Association of Assistance Dog Partners provides extensive information as to what assistance dogs can provide for humans inflicted with debilitating mental or even physical disabilities. But a fairly new scenario involving a dog as emotional support has sparked a legal debate.

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