A Round of-a-Paws for Therapy Dogs!

A lot of talk has happened around the schools about therapy dogs and the possibility of having them at Central Kitsap High School. An elementary school nearby has the answers for the benefits and the possibilities that therapy dogs offer.

by Robyn Fancher, Reporter

An elementary school in Kitsap County has already introduced a program that brings therapy dogs to the school. The program that brings the dogs to this school is called “Therapy Dogs International.” When the dogs are present at the school, a lot of pets and pats meet the pups in the halls. The dogs are celebrities at this school, and for a “pawsitively” good reason.

“Dogs have a way of just giving you a sense of peace, and for some kids who maybe are feeling a little sad or a little agitated, or even too excited, the dogs can kind of bring them back to neutral,” said the Principal of the school. “If they’re reading, dogs won’t judge them. The dogs can just be neutral, they can be like a best friend.”

At the school students are able to read to the dogs, pet the dogs, and spend time with the dogs. There are dogs assigned to specific classes, and there is also a dog specifically there to help with any overwhelming feelings for the kids.

“He just comforts me by being fluffy,” said a student who meets with Truman the dog multiple times a week. 

“If Truman is here then he is here,” Lori D’Arienzo the owner of Truman said in response to the student. 

The therapy dogs and their handlers all pose and laugh about the dogs and their shenanigans. (Robyn Fancher)

“A survey with 1400 teachers showed that almost 70% employed animals in the classroom, with advantages found in attention, motivation, mood and well-being, socio-emotional development, and empathy, as well as cognitive development,” states an article from the NCBI about Animal-Assisted Interventions in the Classroom

With the statistical benefits of having therapy dogs in the classroom, a student at the elementary school spoke on how the dogs positively affected their life. 

“The dogs make me feel like I can actually talk to people,” said a student when asked about how the dogs have impacted her.

 “I think actually staff members benefit just as much as the students,” said the principal. 

There are quite a few hurdles, hoops, tunnels, and weave poles to get through when trying to get the therapy dogs out of training and into school. 

“So we have to sign a MOU (memorandum of understanding), with the school district and TDI (Therapy Dogs International) so they have to have an agreement,” the head of the school’s children support said. “ Then we asked other TDI members.”

Truman the dog sits and turns head to the sound of the clicks of the camera (Robyn Fancher)

There has been some work underway at Central Kitsap High School to try and get therapy dogs here. 

“My daughter works at Central Kitsap High School and they’re trying to get a therapy dog there, but it’s a little harder with high school,” said the TDI member and owner of Honey the dog. “They want to get one there and then some of them for the counselors too, but it’s hard because of its size, permission, and getting the paperwork done.”

With all the benefits and the positive impacts that the dogs at Therapy Dogs International have brought to an elementary school it isn’t surprising that the possibility of therapy dogs at CKHS might not be far off.