A dentist’s visit can be terrifying to some people — an actual drill coming for your mouth is what nightmares are made of for many. One office in Chicago has found an adorable new solution in the form of JoJo, a 6-year-old comfort dog who’s trained to provide support and affection to people in times of distress, like when they have metal instruments poking around their gums.
JoJo works with six different handlers from a Lutheran church group and spends most of her time visiting nursing homes and centers for people with disabilities. She’s also been sent to assist after tornados in Missouri and Illinois, and was brought in to comfort students in various Sandy Hook schools after the 2012 shooting.
Last year, one of JoJo’s handlers, Lynne Ryan, started bringing JoJo in to comfort scared patients at Pediatric Northbrook Dentistry, where she’s worked for over 21 years. Once a month, JoJo comes to the office to sit with (or on) patients who are nervous or uncomfortable with their routine visits.
“In the past three months she’s become a big hit,” Northbrook dental assistant Veronica Renteria told BuzzFeed News. “We now have people who call up and specifically request JoJo.”
“It’s very tender,” Veronica said. “She’s just there waiting for you. If you sit down, she’ll put her head on your lap. It’s quite amazing how she knows you just need that hug.”
JoJo’s success in the office is the latest in adorable help from specially trained dogs, which are also used to help people with autism, depression, and PTSD, among other things.
“Her paw is always available to hold,” Lynne said. “One girl was having her teeth extracted and she just stroked JoJo’s ears the whole time.”