Public Schools Welcome Comfort Dogs on Campuses
Students have the opportunity to lean on dogs for comfort and therapy in many schools. Children are using the dogs to learn to read and for emotional support.
Comfort dogs, sometimes referred to as therapy dogs, provide many benefits to students. They help with students’ mental health and overall attitude/wellbeing when they walk through the schools’ doors.
Therapy Dogs Train to Help Mental Health
It takes about 18 months to train a comfort dog and make sure it enjoys the company of people and doesn’t have a problem constantly seeing new faces. After making sure the comfort dog reacted well to school-related activities and sounds, she was ready to meet the students of Walker Elementary. The adorable golden retriever’s name is Skye and she never fails to put a smile on a student’s face. The purpose of a comfort dog is to help students with their mental health and overall wellbeing. Skye’s former handler, Alyssa Berry, says that a comfort dog is “another tool in the mental health toolbox.” Whether it’s one-on-one in the counseling office or in a group setting in the classroom, Skye is there to brighten everyones day. The principal of Walker Elementary, Kimberly Dameron, says, “Every student that walks by Skye, they all take a look and it changes their mood immediately.”
Therapy Dogs Help Kids During Pandemic
Students from a kindergarten class at Briscoe Elementary in San Antonio ISD love to interact with Henry, their school’s therapy dog. Counselor Michelle Bain arranged for Henry to visit the International Baccalaureate World School campus every Monday morning to help with students’ social-emotional needs during the stressful time caused by the pandemic.
Dogs Help Students Read with Confidence
Hailey is part of North East ISD‘s Dellview Elementary School Reading Education Assistance Dog Program.
She is a certified therapy dog who visits Dellview once a week and simply listens to students read.
“When a child reads to a dog, the pressure is gone. They don’t feel intimated,” said READ Volunteer Bernadette Barnes. “They just feel loved and safe. Little by little, their confidence gets back.”
The program is an invaluable opportunity that’s free to Dellview and its students.
“The volunteers give their time every week, which is really awesome,” said Dellview Librarian Mari Blaylock. “We are really thankful and appreciative of what they give to our students.”