UTAH

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

Utah

Photo credit: American Fork Police Department...
Devin Oldroyd

Silver alert activated in American Fork, missing possibly in Wendover

A silver alert has been activated for 71-year-old Gary Lee Cordon. Dial 801-794-3970 to contact the American Fork Police Department.
12 hours ago
The Deuel Creek Fire began late Sunday night in Centerville. Photo credit: John Wilson....
Devin Oldroyd

Deuel Creek Fire starts in Centerville overnight, evacuation order lifted

The Deuel Creek Fire began late Sunday night in Centerville.
12 hours ago
Tooele City announced its firework restrictions Sunday evening. Photo Credit: Tooele City's Faceboo...
Devin Oldroyd

Tooele City releases fireworks restrictions map

Tooele City announced its firework restrictions Sunday evening.
1 day ago
Photo credit: UDOT...
Devin Oldroyd

Semi-truck rolls on I-80 at U.S.-40, Silver Creek Junction

What caused the semi-truck to roll is still under investigation at this time. All lanes in the area have been cleared and are operational.
1 day ago
Image from the scene of the shooting on South Major street in Salt Lake City (Photo courtesy of SLC...
Chandler Holt

UPDATE: SLCPD arrest two in connection to Sunday night’s shooting

Police received multiple calls regarding shots fired near 1485 South Major Street at around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday July 3, 2022. 
1 day ago
The scene of the shooting at 900 S. 200 West (Photo courtesy of Adam Sotelo)...
Chandler Holt

UPDATE: Shooting on TRAX platform leaves one dead, one injured

Police responded to reports of shots fired on a TRAX platform near 900 South and 200 West at around 10 p.m. on Saturday night.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Healing Utah’s Teenagers: Mika the therapy dog helping at Murray High School