Healing Utah’s Teenagers: Mika the therapy dog helping at Murray High School

Jun 5, 2018, 9:18 AM | Updated: 12:58 pm

MURRAY — Anxiety, stress, depression, finals — teens face a lot in high school. But a therapy dog named Mika is helping at Murray High School.

“Throughout the year she comes in, and it just, it changes students,” says Kim Parkinson, a health education teacher at Murray High School and Mika’s owner and trainer.

Kim Parkinson with Mika

Mika is a golden lab, with a friendly, calming presence in the halls and classrooms.

“She comes to our health class, especially during our mental health unit, when we talk about stress, depression, suicide, and she just makes it more fun to be there,” said Parkinson.

Mika walks down the hall and students come right over. She finds students sitting alone at lunch and goes up to them. Parkinson says you can see the change in them.

“We had a student who had been suspended, and he was returning to school. He came walking in late to class, head down, sat down kind of grumpy. Mika stood up, walked over to him and put her head in his lap, and he totally changed,” said Parkinson.

A MHS student pets Mika

The dog’s presence helps students feel like they are not alone. One exercise is writing down struggles anonymously, and sharing them out loud.

“They all say, I had no idea there were others who feel just like me,” said Parkinson. “Every year, I have at least three students who say they have struggled with thoughts of suicide.”

Mika was trained through Pet Partners and Intermountain Therapy Animals. She has been a therpay dog for the past 5 years, and is 7 years old now.

“She loves it, she loves coming to school,” she said.

Parkinson says teens should share with teachers and parents any problems they see with their friends, because it is not a betrayal of trust, it is helping them get the help they need. She also recommends the SafeUT app as a way to reach out for help as well.

Today’s Top Stories


kindergarten gap year...
Tom Haraldsen

Checking in on the status of full-day kindergarten in Utah

Policy analyst with Voices for Utah Children reveals whether full-day kindergarten could be in the cards for next year.
1 day ago
video game...
Elizabeth Weiler

BYU students win international award for video game

SALT LAKE CITY — Students apart of the animation program at BYU received international recognition from the Rookie Awards for developing and producing a video game. Additionally, the “Highly Commended” also helped BYU earn the global ranking of fifth top video game design school.  The interactive computer game in question is titled Liminus: The Silent Guard, it […]
4 days ago
Weber State University will offer TheDream.US scholarships to Utah immigrant youth who want to atte...
Simone Seikaly

Utah immigrant youth to benefit from new Weber State scholarship

The scholarships for Utah immigrant youth are offered through TheDream.US, which helps DREAMers get into college.
5 days ago
USU Eastern Student Wins Bronze Medal in Welding Competition...
Aubri Wuthrich

USU Eastern student takes 3rd in global welding competition

The USU Eastern welding student scored seven points behind the gold medal winner and took the Best of Nation Award.
5 days ago
At Bingham High School, three seniors made a Cathedral Gingerbread House for extra credit which is ...
Waverly Golden

Bingham High students build intricate gingerbread cathedral

At Bingham High School, three seniors made a Cathedral Gingerbread House for extra credit which is now on display at the high school.
6 days ago
Native tribes...
Elizabeth Weiler

Native tribes of Utah are given their chance to offer historical perspectives on museum artifacts

SALT LAKE CITY — Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU) Anthropologists are using a grant to insure a lifelong understanding of Native tribes and Indigenous culture, long after their generations have passed.  Utah is home to several Native tribes who are now having a chance to preserve their culture.  National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) […]
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Healing Utah’s Teenagers: Mika the therapy dog helping at Murray High School