The Positive Impact of a Therapy Dog

Hi, this is Traci, a Client Care Rep here at Crossroads. I’m also in charge of our social media and our website. I wanted to take a minute to share a special dog with you. My daughter attends Highland Goffe’s Falls (HGF) Elementary School in Manchester, NH and they have the privilege of having a therapy dog at their school! “Why would they need a therapy dog?” you might ask…well, one major benefit is helping kids read. Some children have trouble or anxiety reading out loud in front of their peers. That’s where Remington comes in! He is the ears they need to listen to them as they learn to read. No judgment, no pressure, just a sweet Golden Retriever to lay down and listen.

Remington 2

I recently interviewed his handler, Gail Dubois, to find out just how much Remington helps the students at HGF.

What is a typical day like for Remington?

Remington’s day starts around 5:00 am when he wakes up with his family. They drop him off at my house around 6:30 am. He stays with me until we leave for school around 7:30. When we get to school his day is started. We stop in to the office to visit first and then make our way around to visit staff. Although Remington has a schedule, we always try to find time for special requests that we might receive. He is scheduled in 20, 30 and 45 minute increments depending on the group and activity. While some kids may read to him, others may take him for a walk, play with him on the field or playground. We might spend some quiet time with someone brushing him or make a trip through a classroom or two to say hello and check on friends. We definitely are stretched thin but always show up to the 4 Autism classrooms at the same time every week as we have become part of their Friday routine.”

Remington 3
Remington and his cousin, who is also being trained as a therapy dog.

Did he need special certification and/or training? Did you?
“Remington’s certification is through Therapy Dogs International and requires a significant amount of training with testing at every level. As his handler, I am part of his certified team. My daughter, Hannah, who is his owner, is also certified as a handler. We trained him together, each taking him to classes and through testing.”

How old is Remington?

“He is 4 and a half years old and has been certified for 2 and a half years.”

What do you think is his favorite part of what he does at HGF?
“Remington loves every minute he is at school and definitely enjoys his fair share of snacks while we are there. He is excited to get to school in the morning and is capable of adapting to the needs of the students he is with. A full day is exhausting for him (and me as well) so he is equally happy at the end of the day to retreat to someplace quiet!”

How do the students react to him?
“Remington and I won a Life Changer of the Year Award this past year (2018) for his work in school. He has been a positive influence on students who work with him and some of the transformations have been incredible.”

~You can find out more about the Life Changer of the Year Award, and see the beautifully written nomination from the school principal here: http://app.lifechangeroftheyear.com/nomination_detail.cfm?NominationID=313

Remington 4
This is the day Remington and Mrs. Dubois were recognized at HGF for the Life Changer Award. 

I have seen Remington and Mrs. Dubois walking around outside during morning drop off. While waiting for the car line to start moving, children will pop out of the car windows just to wave to him. One can easily see he is a proud member of the HGF family.

Studies have proven that having an animal around can significantly change a person’s day. Having a pet with you at work helps to relieve mental, emotional and physical stress of your workday. Dogs are being trained to help people with PTSD. And let’s not forget service dogs that help their owners with disabilities. Unless you are allergic to animals, pets are good for your health! Having an interaction with pets during the day can help reduce high blood pressure, cholesterol and anxiety. Petting an animal releases “feel good” hormones in humans including oxytocin and serotonin.

Now you may be thinking “Wow! It makes sense to have a therapy dog at an elementary school!” And wouldn’t it be great if more schools had therapy dogs?

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