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'Comfort dog' helps kids stay calm at the dentist

When she's not writing, Claire Gillespie can most often be found wiping snotty noses, picking up Lego, taking photos of her cat or doing headstands.

Cutest, furriest dental nurse ever helps patients overcome their fears at dentistry clinic

The health benefits of pets are well-documented. Whether it’s having a cat on your lap or a dog by your side, there's no shortage of evidence to prove how our furry friends can be a comforting, calming presence in our lives. A recent study found that the simple act of petting a dog can decrease levels of stress hormones, regulate breathing and lower blood pressure.

More: Most patient dog ever lets little girl play doctor

So it totally makes sense that a 6-year-old golden retriever is "employed" by a dentistry clinic to help comfort young patients going through treatment.

JoJo was one of the first responders to comfort students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012 (where 20 students and six adults were shot dead by 20-year-old Adam Lanza), and for the last year she has worked a regular weekly shift as a dental nurse for Dr. Paul Egger and Dr. Thomas Resnick at the Pediatric Dentistry of Northbrook office in Illinois, reported Illinois' Daily Herald.

JoJo is so valued by her human colleagues that she’s even listed as a staff member on the clinic’s website.

Cutest, furriest dental nurse ever helps patients overcome their fears at dentistry clinic
Image: Dentistry of Northbrook

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"I’ve been working as a handler for five years, and I thought Jo Jo could really do some good here," said JoJo’s handler, Lynne Ryan of Arlington Heights, Illinois. "JoJo had to be trained to get used to all the different noises in a dental office, like the sound of the drill and the suction. But now, she gets up on the chair and reclines on children’s laps."

"A lot of the time, those patients would need nitrous oxide or other sedative to help them relax," clinic receptionist Veronica Renteria told The Dodo. "But when JoJo comes in with them and sits in the chair, they're comforted. They can just sit and pet her as they're getting their teeth cleaned. She does a great job with them.

"A lot of the patients who normally were very apprehensive about even walking in the door now look forward to their appointments. The moment you walk in, you feel very relaxed. There she is, waiting for you to pet her."

Whether you're scared of the dentist or not, who wouldn't want a comforting paw to hold onto when reclined in the chair? Keep up the good work, JoJo!

More: 12 dog breeds that get along great with cats

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