Golden Rule Retrievers
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K9U

School Therapy Dog Adoption Program

ANIMAL ASSISTED THERAPY IN CLASSROOMS - We’re Going to the Dogs!

The 2018-2019 brought a new adventure to the DogSquad. Golden Rule Retrievers partnered with Centerville Independent School District in Texas with the common purpose of preparing golden retrievers and goldendoodles to serve as therapy dogs in schools and nursing homes. Our teacher foster program teams dogs as young as 12 weeks and as old as two years with education professionals in grades K-12. In the classrooms, dogs encourage academic success, higher attendance, and they allow students to practice constructive conversations. The dogs help with behavior support and classroom management, they provide relief when students experience test anxiety, and students work alongside them in every subject area. This unique program teaches empathy, conflict resolution skills, responsibility and respect for others and their personal spaces. The dogs benefit by growing up in an environment that is similar to where they will go upon graduation from the program. Throughout the school year, high school students who work closely with the DogSquad keep up with news from nearby school districts. When a tragedy occurs or there is an appropriate opportunity for the K9U teams to deploy, the Centerville ISD administrators and counselors prepare the students mentally and emotionally before allowing them to travel and offer comfort using the dogs as grief support tools. Centerville ISD has found that since the dogs arrived on campus, there are fewer conflicts, fewer discipline referrals, attendance is higher and the overall campus climate is more positive. There are fewer issues related to bullying and students who in the past have isolated themselves find that they are more willing to take risks during class discussions. The students and staff set out to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and that has certainly been the outcome.

MISSION AND GOALS OF THE K9U PROGRAM

Mission Statement: K9U will join students with Animal Assisted Therapy Dogs to increase academic, emotional and behavioral proficiencies, promoting self-esteem, respect of others and responsible physical and emotional care of all living beings.

Goals:

  • To provide students with positive academic, emotional, and behavioral support

  • To share relationship-building skills and trustworthiness

  • To exemplify calming techniques and self-regulation

  • To experience sharing, overcoming personal obstacles

  • To help with test anxiety and stress

  • To address respect of personal territory and boundaries

  • To be a positive impact on self-esteem and confidence

  • To teach assertiveness without anger, empathy, patience and forgiveness

  • To expand awareness of conflict resolution skills and how to have difficult conversations

  • To encourage positive choices and decision-making skills

  • To be a tool used in academic lessons

HOW DO YOU SELECT RECIPIENT SCHOOLS?

At the end of each school year, dogs that have been a part of the K9U program will be donated by Golden Rule Retrievers and Centerville ISD to recipient school districts that have show both the need and interest in acquiring a therapy dog. When a K9U dog goes to a new campus, he is assigned a handler (usually an administrator or counselor, sometimes a teacher), with whom he will live full time. Schools that have experienced a tragedy are usually given priority, but all schools are invited to inquire.

HOW MUCH DOES A SCHOOL THERAPY DOG COST?

We make every effort to keep the cost of a school therapy dog ZERO. There are circumstances, such as travel, training for the new handler, certification for the new therapy team and insurance that may incur minimal charges. Overall, the total cost for the placement of a therapy dog should be no more than $1000. Many PTA/PTO organizations are enthusiastic about bringing a therapy dog to their children’s school, and they often choose a fundraiser or seek a corporate sponsor to cover expenses. Funds raised can cover toys and training items, grooming tools, food and vet care. Your ag department might even be willing to build a small dog park or playground with a fire hydrant, toys and a place to potty.

HOW CAN MY SCHOOL GET A THERAPY DOG?

In order for a school to qualify for a Golden Rule K9U dog, the school community must seek school board approval and the campus administrator must be fully supportive. The new handler must agree to attend a local training class with the dog and take responsibility for vet care and daily routines. Ownership of the K9U dog will remain with Golden Rule Retrievers for one year, throughoutl which time the school district or handler assumes all financial and legal responsibilities. Golden Rule will monitor the therapy team throughout the year and at the conclusion of the trial period, ownership of the dog may be placed with the school district. If the handler leaves the district’s K9U campus, a secondary handler will be selected per the recommendation of the administration.

WHAT ABOUT ALLERGIES?

Chances are that students and teachers carry more allergens into classrooms on their clothing and backpacks. In our experiences, we have never had an issue with allergies because we choose to be proactive by sending letters or permission slips home so that parents can opt out for their children if they choose. Many of our dogs are non-shedding, and the handlers are responsible for grooming appropriately.