Pup & Coming
Wagging his tail and eager to help, Teddy — Maine West’s first therapy dog — got his introduction to West last month.
“Teddy seemed to be kind of uncertain by the people in our class, but he was an overall kind and friendly dog. He did a couple of tricks and even high-fived a couple of students which was cute,” senior Dulce Cabrera said after meeting Teddy in her Journalism class.
Guidance counselor Elizabeth Hoover began hosting the nine-month-old golden retriever three weeks ago to provide assistance to students who may be struggling emotionally in school. “They had a therapy dog at East so I wondered as to why we couldn’t have one at Maine West, too,” Hoover explained.
She met Luke, the Maine East therapy dog, while attend ing meetings at Maine East. After talking to the superintendent and Principal Dr. Audrey Haugan, “they were ok with the idea, and that’s how Teddy came to be,” Hoover explained.
Finding a therapy dog was the next step of the process. Now that more schools are allowing therapy dogs on their campuses, Hoover explained that she only had to inquire at a few other schools before finding a reliable dog trainer.
“I was able to contact a trainer in Michigan that worked with detection dogs. After discussing it with her, she agreed to find and train a therapy dog for Maine West. She found Teddy on Craigslist and trained him a couple of months before she brought him here.” Before becoming Maine West’s therapy dog, Teddy underwent training to tolerate crowds and new people, as well as to have friendly tricks.
“He’s been trained to not be intrusive so he shouldn’t be going up to people without me telling him to. He can sit, stay, jump up on furniture, does high fives on command,” Hoover said. “He’s also been trained by students at other high schools before coming here, so he has some experience in being in a high school environment. Teddy seems to be sensitive to what people are comfortable with him; he might put his feet on their lap if people allow him to.”
Even though he’s a dog with a job, Teddy still has that play ful attitude that all dogs have. Hoover explained that Teddy “is a very playful and goofy dog at home,” but Teddy becomes more reserved and calm when at school. Teddy hangs out with Hoover’s other, older dog at home and has a dog bed and dog gate in her office at school.
On his first few days as Maine West’s therapy dog, Teddy has quick to tackle his job.
“On the first day here, a girl came by who was having an anxiety attack,” Hoover said. “She sat down with Teddy for a while before heading back to class. While she was there, she explained to me how calming it was for her to have Teddy being next to her.
“I had another boy stop in after he met with his counselor and was feeling stressed and a bit under the weather. After a few minutes, he left feeling completely happy and refreshed.” Hoover explained that even though she can’t stop with Teddy during passing periods in the halls, she gladly will let students meet him at her office.
“His purpose is to help others who are struggling with emotional or physical issues,” Hoover reiterated. “We won’t ask Teddy to be with students every single period of the day, but he’ll be here every day with me at my office. Students who want to meet Teddy for help with emotional stress, they can contact their counselor to schedule a time to meet him.
“It was pretty exciting to see Teddy in our class,” Cabrera said. “Just by seeing him, I think that having a therapy dog is a great idea. Overall, I feel like Teddy will be able to help a lot of people now that he’s here.”