Sunday, January 23

Athletic trainer brings dogs to work to relieve athlete anxiety

By Katie Tate

When Austin Krause first became head athletic trainer at Trevecca Nazarene University he noticed the anxiety some athletes felt when they entered the training room for treatment. 

That is when he had an idea that involved two furry, four legged friends.

Austin Krause’s dog Murray pictured with Trevecca athlete Alex Clouthier

“There’s the anxiety of, ‘Well if I go in [the training room] they’re going to take me out, and I want to compete,’” said Krause. “And so the idea is that there’s this dog that doesn’t judge you, just wants to love, just wants to have fun, so you can come in here and that kind of takes some of that anxiety out.”

Krause pitched the idea of bringing his two boxers, Banks and Murray, to the athletic director Mark Elliot. He explained this is something he had wanted to do, not just because he loves having his dogs around, but because the research behind therapy dogs is solid. 

“The University of North Carolina baseball has a therapy dog that has actually shown really promising results with some of their long-term rehabs,” said Krause. “Elliot agreed…he seems to love the idea.”

Both Banks and Murray are trained by Krause. His main focus is helping them understand the idea of saying “Hi” to people. The dogs are not professionally trained therapy dogs but do offer emotional support for the athletes.

“We never had the dogs [during] the past few years, so I really have noticed a difference with them this year,” said Cassi Peck, another athletic trainer at Trevecca. “The athletes love it when either one is here.”

Peck expressed a huge love for the dogs, and a large appreciation for them especially during testing for Covid-19. The dogs create a more enjoyable atmosphere for morning testing in her eyes and have also served as a huge stress reliever for her personally.  

The athletes are also big fans. 

“I have to do physical therapy on my ankle every day, and I absolutely love having the dogs there,” said Morgan McMurray, a volleyball player at Trevecca. “I always walk in with a negative attitude, I guess, because I hate going every day, but the second the dogs come in with their little sweatshirts and sweatpants on, it just makes my day 100 percent better.”

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