A pack of 30 therapy dogs are making a splash at the Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska. Vocativ reports that the friendly pups were brought in by an organization called Domesti-PUPS to calm the nerves of the 1700 American swimmers competing to qualify in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Domesti-PUPS is a nonprofit organization based in Lincoln, Nebraska, that provides therapy dogs to classrooms, hospitals, and other high-stress environments. The dogs only have one job: to be themselves. The mere presence of the pups’ friendly faces and wagging tails, Domesti-PUPS believes, is enough to calm even the most frayed nerves.
“Anywhere there’s an elevated level of stress, we can take our dogs and try to de-stress them,” Sandy Ludwig of Domesti-PUPS told the Associated Press. “These dogs are just lying there, waiting to have their bellies rubbed or their ears scratched.”
And, according to swimmers, the pups really are making a difference. Ludwig says one swimmer even told her that spending time with a therapy dog helped improve her performance in the pool.
“It just calms me down a lot,” swimmer Kacey Oberlander told the AP. “It’s nice to see the happy puppy dogs running around when everything is so intense and everyone’s so serious.”