School uses therapy dog to help students and staff

Local

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) – The newest staff member at the Greenwood Middle School library is calming, supportive and has now become an essential part of the students’ day.

Ali is a black lab who has been working at Greenwood Middle School as a therapy dog for four years.

“I was very cautious at first but somewhat cautious when we started it all,” said Greenwood Middle School principal Chris Sutton.

Karen Hill was a teacher for more than 30 years, she now works in the library. She didn’t get Ali with the intention of making her a co-worker, but she said Ali’s personality just fit, so they started training.

“We could do this, it will take time,” said Hill. “So we did the puppy classes, then we did the adult classes, then we had to do K9 Good Citizen, and then the therapy classes.”

Ali spends most of her time in the library sitting with kids while they read. Since Ali started Ms. Hill says the library has become a popular place.

“Ali is not judging them or having opinions about them. They know that she is there because she wants to be there and loves them,” explained Sutton.

Teachers have even started using time with Ali as a reward for good behavior.

“Sometimes teachers allow students to earn time with her and they come in just to pet her and give her treats,” explained Hill.

When students pass Ali they can’t help but stop and say hello.

“They wanted to behave and be better so that they could go sit with the dog,” added Hill.

Ali has been so effective in helping students that the school has already started planning for the future. They bring Charlie, an 8-month-old lab, to the school a few days a week so he can get used to being in a school setting.

“Even when they just see Ali there are smiles on their faces, they are excited, it turns some kid’s days around,” explained Sutton.

Ali is going to be at Greenwood Middle School still for quite some time. But Charlie is already taking his classes and is on standby for whenever Ali decides to retire.

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