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School therapy dog comforts students during stressful time

Therapy dogs provide comfort and joy to students in schools throughout the country. Andover Central has two dogs owned by staff members, one of which is a new golden retriever puppy, Charlie, owned by counselor Laura Scaglione. The other is Principal Cheryl Hochhalter’s golden retriever, Brooke.

Scaglione plans to have Charlie trained to be a therapy dog as long as he is agreeable. She says it just makes sense for her to have a therapy dog.

“I love seeing how dogs bring joy to so many people, I like helping people and I love dogs. It just seemed natural to have a therapy dog. Charlie loves people, he is such a good dog around people and very relaxed and loves being loved. Charlie and Brooke get along very well and have a great time playing. Brooke is such a good ‘mama’ dog to Charlie and is teaching him the right ways to play and how to be an excellent therapy dog. He is so soft and his eyes have so much expression in them. He is playful, and watching him flop all over the toys is the funniest. He follows me around everywhere I go. He also loves the snow,” Scaglione said.

Hochalter had Brooke certified as a therapy dog so she can spend a lot of time at the school helping kids.

“Brooke is certified through Love on a Leash, she was certified in July. The school district requires dogs to be certified by the time they are two years old. Brooke can be shy with strangers or people she doesn’t know as well, but when she gets to know you she loves being loved. Once she knows you, she likes to flop over and have her tummy rubbed by students and staff. She is very much a people dog, and she is very spoiled by students and staff. I love seeing Brooke bring people joy, seeing people smile when she trots into a classroom or races down the hall is awesome. She just brings joy and love to everyone around her. This year I think we all need more joy and love in our days and lives. The building and office just don’t seem right when she isn’t here, I view her as a valued staff member whose job is to make us smile and for a few minutes to relax and enjoy the day. She is very loving once she gets to know students and staff. If she doesn’t know you, if you just sit down or kneel down and let her approach you, she will melt into you and you will be forever her friend. There isn’t a person or another dog that isn’t Brooke’s friend!” Hochhalter said.

Both dogs offer comfort and joy to students, which is even more important in the current situation. With the altered circumstances of this year, the calming presences of the dogs are even more appreciated by staff and students.

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