A site for education professionals wanting to learn more about Animal-Assisted Interventions
School Therapy Dog Blog
|Posted on January 10, 2019 at 10:55 AM||comments ()|
Yesterday, I had the honor of being named the 2018 recipient of the Pet Partners 2018 Magic Award Winner. I'm still wrapping my head around this honor and realized that I've been spending so much time as the admin of the Facebook Group - School Therapy Dogs - that this website isn't as useful as I would like it to be. If you are an education professional or a therapy dog volunteer handler, please consider joining the School Therapy Dogs group. We now have thousands of educators across the globe sharing best practice, research and tools. I have several projects up my sleeves for 2019 and hope to continue to share what I learn as we grow this field of work. Please keep your dog's needs at the forefront of your work. My motto is Dogs First, Students Always. - Jen
|Posted on February 11, 2016 at 10:40 AM||comments ()|
I attended a conference yesterday titled Animal Assisted Interventions. The speaker travels across the United States and has an impressive resume. There was substantial data on the history of the human-animal bond and founders of this type of work. However, the section titled "starting your own practice" had no comments on the ethical treatment of the animals we work with. There was no mention of knowing your dog's stress signals. No mention of taking the animals needs into consideration when working with clients. If a dog was showing stress or aggression, he stated it was due to poor training. I countered that the work may not be appropriate for the animal in that situation.
I also met some school counselors who have dogs working with them at school that were trained with a shock collar and are not registered with a therapy organization. There are little to no protocols in place for the programs. The dogs "hang out" with kids while the counselor is teaching.
So these two trends have me concerned and I want to do what I can to counter them.
1. We MUST know our animals and keep their needs at the forefront of our programs.
2. We MUST have high quality programs with qualified animals and protocols that highlight the positive outcomes of this work and significantly decrease the risks involved.
Please take a look at your own programs and ensure these are being met.
Happy New Year 2016
|Posted on January 1, 2016 at 12:20 AM||comments ()|
Happy New Years!
It's been one of my busiest years to date with signficant ups and downs. I'm looking forward to things calming down in 2016. My goal is to spend some more time on this site with current updates and blogs; along with a few other projects I've been working on.
My focus in the past 16 months has been focusing on trauma in kids/adolescents and how the human-animal bond can impact their functioning. I've been looking more closely at the impact of having a dog in the home setting and also the interactions between kids with trauma and horses.
I am also overwhelmed with requests from my fellow counselors in the district to work with some students at their schools. Copper and I have started to branch out to other schools on a very limited basis. His schedule is always at the forefront of my planning. The last thing I want to see happen, is for him to loose his enjoyment of working by becoming overwhelmed. In light of that, I'm starting to think about a district program and what that might look like for our school district. Getting a grant for that would be AWESOME.
Copper continues to be an amazing partner at school. Even though he's been working at the school for 4 years now, the students haven't grown "tired" of him. They continue to ask for Copper time, continue to write letters to him, continue to ask when they can work with him again, continue to walk him with me at recess, continue to follow our behavior expectations for a working dog in school and continue to invite him to birthday parties - which he politely declines.
I want to thank everyone who has had so many kind comments about this site and who share their passion about this work.
Here's to a productive, positive, healthy and happy 2016.
-Jen and Copper
New School Year
|Posted on September 25, 2014 at 9:35 AM||comments ()|
Copper has had a great start to the new school year. We followed our protocols of having him come in before school started to get him acclimated to classroom changes and to meet new staff. He didn't come to school for the first 7 days because I wanted to review our student behavior expections with all our kids. Guests to our building continue to be impressed that all our students ask to pet Copper before reaching down and giving him a scratch under the chin. I've also called all my new parents/guardians that indicated their child had a dog allergy or adversion. They are all happy with the steps I take to ensure their child is happy and healthy at school.
We have started working the the staff in our new ILC Intensive Learning Center. This is a new service at our school this year and Copper loves working with our students receiving services through this program. I'm looking forward to creating some new tools to measure the impact his work has with these students.
Copper has started sessions to work with students on social/emotional goals and attention goals. We have started scheduling discussions with our Occupational Therapist as she works with our kids. The Reader Retriever program is in full swing. I've started selling "Copper Time" in the school store for 50 Tiger Paws. He continues to work on the playground and greets families before school on Fridays.
|Posted on November 11, 2013 at 1:45 PM||comments ()|
The news from the vet isn't good. Copper has a torn ACL. I've got a plan for when Copper gets older and needs to retire but I haven't thought through this scenero. The vet stated that he could still come to school but I've been extremely cautious. If he is in pain, he doesn't need to be working. His medication seems to be working well. He wants to play "chase" with me is engaging me with his typical toys.
Here are some things I am considering.
1. Adapt his day for minimal walking. He typically picks up and drops off students at their classrooms. Until he recovers, I will go pick up and drop off students.
2. Adapt his typical "active" sessions. Tyically, students will be involved in training him. This could result in many "sits, downs, ups and comes". I may focus on having him work with students who would benefit more from reading goals which just involves him listening in to a story.
3. Recess duty is out for a while. Although this seems to be his favorite part of the day, it's also the most active.
I'll check in with the vet and see what he recommends.
Big Thompson Flood
|Posted on October 14, 2013 at 8:30 PM||comments ()|
It has been a very busy month. Copper has been working at school and also with HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response. They are a world-class organization with a strong volunteer base, excellent teams and an intensive training program. Copper and I visited a local high school to visit primarly with students who were severely impacted by the flooding. We also went on a visit to the Red Cross Headquarters established to support flood victims. It was a wonderful opportunity to say thank you for all the work they are doing in our community. They are an inspiring group of individuals.
Back to School
|Posted on August 19, 2013 at 9:00 PM||comments ()|
Copper has been a school several times this summer working with a small group of awesome 2nd graders. The school is different now. The students are not back in the building yet but the classrooms have been deep-cleaned, teachers have moved into different rooms, new teachers have brought their materials in and the hallways are starting to fill with color.
This is the ideal time to bring Copper back into the building. It gives him a chance to see and smell the changes. I also start bringing him into the counseling room, his primary work location, to check out the kennel, water bowl and toys that have been idle over the summer. We have a new section of the playground so I introduced him to rubberized wood chips and how they feel to walk on. I also remind him how the school sounds and feels with multiple fans. Since we don't have air conditioning, we do have numerous fans, large and small, running in all rooms. Copper seems excited to get started. He runs to the car when I pick up his yellow school bag.
He won't be back in the building with all our students until I've reviewed expecations for behavior with each class. I want to ensure his first days back at school are with students who know how to be safe around dogs and treat them with respect. We review our 4 steps; approach, ask, pet, and goodbye.