A friendly Labradoodle named Dwight will soon begin his job as a school-based therapy dog.
Elementary school principal Dr. LuAnn Boyer planned to obtain a school dog for the 2011-12 school year, but a phone call changed those plans.
A caller from the Assistance Dogs of America organization told her that a dog was ready for Fayette. If the district didn’t take it, it would slip down quite a ways on the waiting list.
School counselor Janna Ballmer agreed to allow Dwight to live at her house and planning moved into high gear.
The women completed five days of training to get acquainted with Dwight and to learn the commands he’s been taught. They were also given instructions on how the dog should be used in the classroom.
“It will be a work in progress,” Dr. Boyer said.
Dwight will stay home the first week of school, but he will be introduced to students during an assembly Aug. 30.
Students will learn that when Dwight is wearing his blue bandana, it means that he is working and permission must be given by Dr. Boyer or Mrs. Ballmer before petting him. Students will also be told not to give the dog any food or toys.
District funds will not be used to support Dwight and donations will be accepted. Students will be given a list of approved food and snacks if they wish to contribute and financial donations are also welcomed.
Why a Therapy Dog?
Therapy Dogs serve as a well-behaved best friend for several purposes:
• give companionship
• give unconditional love
• someone to talk to
• someone to sit with you when you are sad
• someone to read to
• someone to stimulate physical contact
• someone to make you smile and feel good.
School therapy dogs also help students learn humane animal care, practice discipline and responsibility, develop an attitude of kindness and compassion, and teach about love and nurturing.
Therapy dogs can also serve as a motivator to bring students “out of their shell.”