Sign In

Therapy dog helps kids

April 2, 2020

When you walk the halls of St. Pius X Catholic School in Edgewood, there’s a big chance you’ll bump into a four-legged friend.

For over a year, a therapy dog named Clooney has been joining students in the classroom, thanks to Alex Bessler, a teacher at St. Pius.

“I always noticed [my dog] Clooney was so gentle with everybody, whether they were scared or loved dogs,” said Bessler. “I kind of thought to myself, ‘She’s so good with people with disabilities and she’s great with kiddos that are neurotypical. Maybe she could bring the happiness she gives to them to our school.”

Research shows therapy dogs can reduce anxiety in children and improve their learning.

“She comes in here and we’ll work with kiddos that are struggling to read,” Bessler said, who works with children with disabilities. “I think it’s just a non-judgmental person – animal – to be here and listen to them read or their worries or their things that are hurting in their heart, and they leave feeling better after they’ve gotten the chance to sit with her.”

“I have ADHD and I have hard times focusing,” said 6th grader Jay Murphy. “I think she helps me focus. I’ll pet her and then I can stay more focused.”

Clooney also helps students who don’t have any disabilities.

“I feel like she knows when you’re stressed or worried,” said 8th grader Hailey Cogswell. “She’ll come and put her head in your lap and she’s there to calm people down.”

“And also when you’re sad she sometimes can give you cuddles and stuff and snuggle with you,” said first-grader Marnie Aulick. “She’s like a big good girl and she always listens to our grown-ups and stuff.”

Bressler is hoping she can inspire other schools to bring therapy dogs into the classroom, too.

“If you have someone who’s passionate about it, that’s all it takes,” Bressler said. “One person to feel passionate about it and want to incorporate it in a part of their school. I encourage anyone to do it.”

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more