I know several therapy dogs, in fact I know a psychologist and dog trainer who runs a brilliant course for health professionals (and others) to train therapy dogs.
Recently I had a friend in crisis. We got that friend some help, and now we are in the aftermath, the calm after the storm so to speak. It’s funny, because I can feel the space in the palm of my hands where I should have a dog. So I have gone to my greyhounds and patted and stroked them, and picked up and cuddled my Jack Russell Terrier, and even snuggled with the Sausage Dog (Dachshund) that is staying for a week. All the time, I noticed something, I felt calmer, my anxiety has decreased and I am able to focus more easily on my day to day tasks.
I usually have many techniques up my sleeve for calming myself after a stressful event, but dogs bring something unique to the situation and this experience has just recently reinforced that belief.
You can read anywhere on the internet about dogs assisting in therapy situations (animal assisted therapy) and how pets can help with lowering blood pressure amongst helping with other serious illnesses, and many people have dogs trained for specialty therapy or assistance situations, but if you have a dog you love that brings you joy and you feel stress, I highly recommend you go fill that space in your hand that can be filled by a pat and cuddle and use your dog as a therapy dog.
Interestingly, my normally independent dogs are all hanging around extra close tonight. I am reassured by their presence.
PS: If you are interested in learning about having a therapy dog, I highly recommend Lead the Way http://www.ltw.com.au