Monday, August 5, 2019

A school gets a facility dog to help students with disabilities

It's one of those stories that makes you think: Why doesn't this happen more often? A high school in Mukwonago, Wisconsin will soon have a facility dog on staff,  thanks to special ed teacher Sue Bachofen. She adopted Champ, an 18-month-old English yellow lab, from a guide dog association last spring, reports the Journal Sentinel. Because Champ had some issues with his elbow, he needed a career change—and he's found an awesome one.

Sue thought that Champ could be great for special ed students with depression or social anxiety, because he could give them something to look forward to. Therapy dogs have been shown to have physical benefits (they can reduce blood pressure and help with pain management); cognitive benefits (they can stimulate memory and problem-solving skills) and social ones—they can lift moods in classrooms and have been shown to make youth with autism feel more at ease, notes

This week is International Assistance Dog Week, created to recognize all the devoted dogs out there helping people with disabilities. There are a number of organizations around the country that help train and place facility dogs (which can also assist in group homes, nursing homes and health facilities), including Paws'itive Teams in San Diego, Pawsitive Perspectives in Lakeville, MN, Dogs for Better Lives in Central Point, OR and Canine Companions for Independence, which has locations nationwide.

Champ will be at Mukwonago High School to greet students when they return after summer break, and he's bound to get an enthusiastic welcome. As a student wrote in his final exam, "One of the only things that could make school better is by getting that dog in here for me to pet so I can feel someone cares."

Photo: jsonline video


  1. My daughter's special program in her High School had a therapy dog. It made all the difference in her transitioning to the program and being successful. One of the programs PE class was walking the dog. She has problems with transitions and knowing the dog was there made it much much easier for her.

  2. Wonderful. Wish all schools could have a therapy dog. For that matter, why not in offices to help people cope with stress.

  3. While I am happy about this, as a parent who has a service dog for her child, having a therapy dog in the same building can create issues if not handled properly. We need to remember that service dogs are providing very specific and often times, (as in my daughter's case) life saving services that other animals can be distracting to. Again, I'm all for therapy dogs in schools as long as the children, adults, and most specifically, the dog's handler understands that if a service dog is in the building precautions need to be taken to protect that service dog and his/her companion.


Thanks for sharing!

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