Public Schools With Therapy Dogs

July 20, 2020

Mt. Pleasant Public Schools (MPPS) will be bringing in four social/emotional therapy dogs to the school district.

The dogs were acquired through a grant with Shepherd Public Schools as well as MPPS. Support from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe aided in awarding these grants for the school.

“Two were purchased earlier this year, one was just released to their host and the other will be released to their host family some time in August,” Speech Language Pathologist at MPPS, Tracy Wood said. “Due to additional grant funding, another two dogs were just purchased this month. We are making plans now for their host families and school placements for the fall.”

Since the dogs are owned by MPPS, the grant funding takes care of the purchasing of the dogs as well as their other needs like daily care, supplies, vet care, and grooming. An employee of MPPS is chosen to host the dogs through an application process.

“The host is responsible for initial training and continuation of the training each day,” Wood said. “The host is also responsible to provide a safe and loving home for the dog. A steering committee oversees the therapy dog program.”

The therapy dogs includes a Labradoodle named Teddy and a black Labrador retriever named Olive (Ollie for short) as well as another black Labrador retriever and an Australian Labradoodle, which will come to MPPS later in the year.

Teddy is being hosted by Wood and her family, and will be serving at Gainard Elementary.

“The host is responsible for continuing training, bringing him/her to school each day and coordinating his/her “work” for the day,” Wood said. “When the dog is not working at school, he becomes a part of the family, living life with us each day.”

Ollie will be released to his host family, Courtney and Jason Russell, in August and will be serving students at Mt. Pleasant Middle School.

The therapy dogs will be providing emotional support to students, specifically students that have been impacted by trauma but the dogs will be there for all students. The dogs will also be utilized to support behavioral, academic and communication needs for students with special needs.

“Teddy will be working with me (SLP) so he will be a key support with my caseload,” Wood said. “I work with students with mild to significant speech and language impairments. Olive will be spending much time with students in need of counseling at the middle school and with students with special needs. The dogs will also eventually be scheduled to spend time in most classrooms (dependent on allergy or anxiety issues).”

The dogs received a minimum of 8 months of intensive training with Valerie Thomas of Mindfulness Therapy Dogs in Pinckney, MI. Host families will also train with the dogs and trainers before the dogs are released to the schools.

“The training focuses on the dogs behavioral and social skills,” Wood said. “They are trained to be loved and to give love. All staff in the buildings that have the dogs will also have training and a secondary host will be available to support the primary host when needed.”

In terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, while there is currently no official word on MPPS’s plans are for the upcoming school year, safety measures are being worked on in order to protect the dog and children.”With COVID-19, we know that students will most likely return with anxiety and other social emotional needs,” Wood said. “The timing of our district receiving these dogs could not be better. That being said, we do know that dogs can also contract the virus, so we will have safety measures put in place to protect the health of the dogs.”

  • Most Recent News

    Big Dogs Need Owners

    October 9, 2020

    When the shutdown orders took full effect, it became nearly impossible to find a small dog available for adoption as Southlanders sought furry companions. In many Southland shelters, only larger breeds remained available for adoption. Now Los Angeles Animal Service is touting the joys of big dogs while offering discounted adoption fees for larger breeds […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Walkathon

    October 9, 2020

    On Saturday, October 3, hundreds of walkers from across 15 states joined the path to bettering the world for children with autism and their families as part of BluePath Service Dogs’ fourth annual walkathon. The family-friendly fundraiser – this year held virtually – raised more than $120,000 to further BluePath’s mission of providing autism service […]

    Read more

    Service Dog In The Marching Band

    October 9, 2020

    In a year that is anything but normal, the Jones College Maroon Typhoon Marching Band has welcomed its first known service dog member this fall. Laurie, a 3-year-old golden retriever, is baritone saxophone player Sara-Beth McKellar’s service dog. The Vicksburg native was diagnosed with epilepsy as a sophomore in high school after her first seizure. […]

    Read more

    Church Blesses Animals

    October 9, 2020

    St. Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception in Port Jervis hosted a special outdoor service last Sunday afternoon to bless the community’s pets, animals and other living creatures. In keeping with current pandemic rules, pet owners wore masks, remained distant, and took part in praying for dogs, cats, turtles, and other pets and animals around […]

    Read more

    Police Welcomes New Canine

    October 9, 2020

    Young Kingston Police service dog Bask may look small, but his handler says his training and energy are proving that he’s up to fill the shoes of his predecessor. “I think he’s going to be a great little dog,” Const. Jeff Dickson said, looking down at his new partner. A partner that, wearing the right […]

    Read more

    Dog Park For Travelers

    October 9, 2020

    St. Petersburg is widely recognized as a dog-friendly city, and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is making sure its four-legged visitors and their humans feel welcome by rolling out the artificial turf carpet. With the completion of the airport’s parking and roadway project – part of a series of multi-million dollar improvements at the airport over the […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Helps Firefighters

    October 9, 2020

    Firefighters battling the Archie Creek and Thielsen fires have had some long, exhausting days. But for some, their troubles seemed to melt away once they got back to camp. Why? Meet Ralph Colombo. He hauls oversize loads. And joining Ralph is his service dog, Cowboy – the morale boosting, firefighting puppy. “He just keeps my […]

    Read more

    Pet Therapy Program

    October 9, 2020

    Saturday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, which this year has a new sense of urgency for many. Covid-19 has taken a mental and emotional toll on healthcare workers across the U.S but there is a program boosting the spirits of doctors and nurses on the frontlines. At UC Irvine Medical Center in Southern […]

    Read more

    A Service Dogs Place

    October 9, 2020

    A new Pineville nonprofit that helps people with disabilities obtain service dogs has made its first match. The Saber Life Foundation was started in March by Danea Key and her husband Joel. They provide people with trained service dogs, paying 51 percent of the cost, with the client paying the other 49 percent. Service dogs […]

    Read more

    Dog Beating Cancer

    October 9, 2020

    A little over a year after a local dog was given only a few months to live after being diagnosed with bone cancer, she is still in remission and will be celebrated her twelfth birthday this month. Cocoa has been with her owner, Bucyrus resident Christie Auck, since she was nine-weeks-old. “On Aug. 18, 2019, […]

    Read more

    More Recent News