COXSACKIE, N.Y. (WTEN) — A Coxsackie dental practice has a new take on calming fears during visits, and all it takes is one furry staff member. Cara lets her coworkers take care of all the cleaning and the drilling but she’s there to lend a paw to calm patients down.

Cara is a golden doodle and a full-time “greeter” at Coxsackie Dental Arts. She belongs to Dr. Kurt Froehlich, who has been a dentist for over 30 years. He started bringing Cara to work five years ago, and now, he’ll never go back because she’s such an asset to the team. 

“She’ll know who may be the most anxious of all the patients in the chair, and she’ll go right to that person. And as soon as that happens, it’s better than any drug you can give somebody,” Froehlich said.

And fear at the dentist is more prevalent than one might think. According to a study by the National Library of Medicine, over a third of Americans have dental anxiety or fear. “For dentists, it’s an extra tough job because we’re doing procedures on patients, and they are awake, they’re conscious,” Froehlich said. “And having something, an animal, that can relate to the person is quite different.”

Of course, there are exceptions for Cara’s use, a patient with allergies or on the rare chance someone doesn’t like dogs. However, according to Dr. Froehlich, Cara knows when to tend to her other admirers.

Dr. Froehlich added that although the trend of “facility dogs” like Cara is growing in popularity, he wishes it was more commonplace in dentistry and other medical practices.