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

    Big Dogs Need Owners

    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

    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

    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

    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 Welcome New Canine

    After the unexpected passing of longtime Police Service Dog Zeus earlier this week, Kingston Police are welcoming a new member to the Canine Unit. Police Service Dog Bask, also known as K9-8, is a Dutch Shepherd and Belgium Malinois mix, and will be patrolling the streets of Kingston with his handler Constable Jeff Dickson. Bask […]

    Read more

    Dog Park For Travelers

    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