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Students and staff in the WACO School District have a new reason to smile thanks to their new four-legged friend.
Since purchasing her in late October, the district’s Bernedoodle therapy dog, Arly, has already been making an impact on the students and staff that she visits. School Counselor Amy Pullis says that through the pandemic, she has seen many students experience heightened levels of anxiety and stress. “I think that one thing we’re hoping that she can help with is helping some shyer, more withdrawn kids boost their confidence. brittany [Burnham] and I have also talked about with the administration, maybe if there are behaviors that we want to work on with students, that time with her can be an incentive that they earn. Or to just help them cope with some things that they are going through.”
School nurse Brittany Burnham says that Arly is still finishing her training and has been spending a lot of time in her office to get used to the building. She explains that Arly has not only been helping with students’ mental health but also their physical health, “It’s amazing to see already without her even having any training at all to see students’ demeanor change when they see her. A student could come down looking completely miserable with a stomach ache and a headache. And then five minutes with her and they’re telling me they are ready to go back to class. It’s something that resting and water, the things that I have normally done in the past, have never been able to accomplish in that short amount of time.”
Burnham is serving as Arly’s handler and has welcomed her into her home. She hopes Arly will complete her training and join the district full-time by the beginning of March. You can hear more from Pullis and Burnham during Tuesday’s KCII Public Safety Special Edition News Magazine airing at 1 and 6 pm and available through the On Demand page.