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Meet Stella, A Therapy Dog Who Is Helping People Curb Anxiety And Depression

The dog, Stella, was trained for pet therapy after the country was hit by coronavirus pandemic. She can detect diabetes, detect lung cancer, breast cancer, lower sugar levels by sniffing the breath of patients

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New Delhi: Canine companionships come with some powerful health benefits and have been helpful in relieving depression and anxiety, lowering stress, and improving one’s heart health, according to a study published in the National Centre for Biotechnology Information. What is it about animals that calm the nerves of a human being? Chandigarh-based businessman Mr. Simrat Pal Sidhu, also known as Newton Sidhu, introduced NDTV to Stella (a Tri Poodle), a therapy dog. Stella can be your companion when you are feeling low, detect anxiety attacks, monitor your heart rate, and much more.

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He started training her during the COVID-19 pandemic, and later introduced her to senior citizens in his neighborhood. The people responded positively when they interacted with the dog.

One incident I remember is of an old lady in my neighborhood, who is an artist by profession. My mother told me that she was suffering from depression and had stopped painting due to that. One day, I took Stella with me to her house, and the dog soon became a regular visitor. It was all due to this poodle’s social recognition that the lady started painting again.

Mr. Sidhu’s company, ESD India, runs a joint venture with the Punjab government called the Punjab Home Guards Canine Training & Breeding Institute in Derabassi, in the Mohali district of Punjab, which provides trained dogs for detecting narcotics and explosives. These dogs have been in paramilitary forces and state police forces in Sikkim, Manipur, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, etc.

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Mr. Sidhu and his group started training some of the dogs for pet therapy when the country was hit by the coronavirus pandemic. He said,

We have been training dogs for security purposes, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, we came up with this idea, because I had witnessed several incidents of dogs helping people deal with anxiety, depression, and fits.

Speaking about the health benefits of interacting with dogs, Mr. Sidhu said that the animals could detect diabetes, lung cancer, breast cancer, etc., by sniffing the breath of patients.

For diabetes detection by dogs, we take the saliva and sweat of a patient. and start imprinting dogs on that. Dogs can identify nearly 18,000 different scents. So, if your sugar levels are going down, you start sweating, the dog will bark, Mr. Sidhu said.

He said that training dogs for such identification was a rigorous process that took 7-8 months, but it proved to be helpful.

Humans have long realised that dogs can be helpful, in a number of ways, to achieving important goals. Stella is doing an essential service of helping people dealing with stress, anxiety, isolation, etc.

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