Ari is Ms’ Jen’s 11-month-old Husky-Shepherd Mix, and also the newest volunteer staff member at the Cloverleaf School. She has a loving, playful personality and plenty of energy! She worked with Cloverleaf’s aftercare at least once per week throughout last semester, and built strong bonds with the students. After reading a collection of news articles on the value of Therapy Dogs in Schools, we’ve decided to upgrade Ari from her role as part-time aftercare playmate to full-time Cloverleaf Mascot!
- “Therapy Dogs Valued Members of Staff at Corridor Schools”
- “Therapy Dogs Lending a Helping Paw to Students”
- “Social worker praises use of therapy dog in school”
Once Ari turns 1 year old, she will be eligible for the Therapy Dog Assessment, administered by Therapy Dogs International. The test is based predominantly on the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen certification. With her experience last year in our aftercare program, we feel confident in her ability to pass the test with flying colors. Ari loves playing with kids, and especially loves being an integral part of Cloverleaf!
Currently, Ari’s main goal in her training is getting used to meeting new people on a regular basis. With parent and professional tours coming through regularly, Ari is learning to greet new faces almost every day. We welcome our families and visitors to give her a treat and a pat on the head whenever they pass by to help her get more comfortable with the school routine.
So far, the kids have loved spending time with Ari at school. In their words:
- “I like playing ‘go get that toy’ with Ari.”
- “I like how she sleeps in funny ways, like upside-down!”
- “I love giving her treats when she does tricks, like roll-over.”
- “Ari is a good listener.”
- “I like petting her. She’s so soft!”
- “It’s so cool to have Ari at school, right?”
- “It’s funny when she tries to sit on the Mushroom seat.”
- “I like to do tricks with Ari.”
- “Ari is a nice dog. She’s a good girl.”
Benefits of having a school dog include:
- Confidence. Students have the opportunity to train a dog and practice giving directions.
- Positive Rapport. Ari brings an attitude of unconditional love to ease students’ anxieties.
- Comfort. Students love having a soft, fluffy pet to love on.
- Improved Test Results in Reading. Many schools have reported gains in reading after taking on a Therapy Dog. Dogs can be just the nonjudgemental audience a struggling reader needs.
- Behavioral Support. Students relax in the calming presence of a furry friend.
- Responsibility. Students learn what it takes to walk, feed, clean up after, and generally care for a pet.
- Caring and relationship-building. Students with special needs often have difficulties making friends or relating to others, so a pet can be the friend they’ve always longed for. She also makes for a great conversation topic when meeting new human friends!