Dental Dogs Offer Welcome Comfort to Patients

LEWISBURG, Pa. -- A dentist in Lewisburg is aiming to make his patients' experiences more pleasant with the help of his four-legged friends.

Barley and Bella are English cream retrievers and they are Dr. Larry Winans' family pets.

Dr. Winans has a dental practice in Lewisburg and a few months ago, he had a young patient with a history of bad experiences at the dentist. The child saw Barley one day and asked if he could be in the room with her.

"Why not? It's going to help her. The treatment and everything went flawlessly perfect. So, I thought maybe this could actually help people," said Dr. Winans.

After that, lots of patients asked for Barley to sit in on their appointments. When Dr. Winans got Bella, she came to the office too.

"Just come in and lay down, they come over and give you a, 'hey, we're here,' and then they lay down," said Whitney Shirk.

"I've trained them to stay away from me so that they don't knock a hose, a cable, or do anything like that," Dr. Winans explained.

Even though the dogs stay out of the way during the actual treatment process, just knowing they're in the same room makes the patients feel better.

"Having the dogs in here makes it comforting. They're really friendly, nice warm welcome," Shirk added.

"I was super-excited when I saw them because I'm a big dog person. It took the tension off," Megan Erdley said.

"I think it just helps them to calm down and to feel normal and a little bit more relaxed," Dr. Winans added.

Barley and Bella stay in a separate room and the dentist only brings them out if a patient requests them.