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DARTMOUTH, Mass. (WPRI) – When Dartmouth High School students return to the classroom on Monday, they can be greeted by a dog.
Headmaster Ross Thibault said the idea of a school therapy dog was born about four years ago after attending Burlington High School, which uses a therapy dog.
“The positive effects of the therapy dog in Burlington motivated us to look into the possibility of getting one to Dartmouth High School.” Thibault said, “Then the pandemic and schools closed and we had to go.”
The headmaster’s plans submitted the costs for the acquisition and training of a therapy dog.
That later changed after assistant director Richard Gill adopted a Cockapoo puppy (cocker spaniel and poodle) named Augie.
Gill decided to begin private training with Augie through Harmonious Hounds, and the Cockapoo later passed the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test.
“This pandemic has exacerbated the mental health problems of some students, and we know from research that simply petting a dog can lower blood pressure and reduce stress and anxiety.” Thibault said, “Augie is another way our school social workers can support the social emotional wellbeing of our students.”
Monday February 1st is the first day students have been back to school since the December vacation break.