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Therapy Dog Hazel Huffer

September 21, 2020

A Kosciusko County school has added a different sort of employee to its roster – a 6-year-old sheepadoodle, a cross between Old English sheepdog and poodle.

Named Hazel Grace Huffer, the pup joined Leesburg Elementary School last month as a therapy dog certified and insured through Alliance of Therapy Dogs, according to a Warsaw Community Schools news release.

Her owner, Stacy Huffer, teaches fourth grade at Leesburg.

Students aren’t required to interact with Hazel, but educators expect the dog’s presence will help children struggling with problems including school anxiety and friendship and home issues, the release said.

“Hazel creates an atmosphere of joy just by being present,” the release said. “She is excited to greet everyone and is nonjudgmental, kind to all and a great listener.”

At least two students benefited from Hazel on her first day. The students were upset and successfully transitioned back to class after spending a few minutes with her, the release said.

Hazel practices her therapy skills at a funeral home on evenings and weekends, the release added.

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