Therapy dog proposed for the high school

With the success of Coral, the therapy dog at Lincoln Elementary, a student at Washington High School is wondering if students there shouldn’t have their own therapy dog.

During the Washington School Board meeting Wednesday evening, student Brynn Beenblossom and family consumer science teacher Erin Riley spoke with the board about their plans to acquire a therapy dog to have at the high school. Beenblossom, the daughter of Lincoln Elementary principal and Coral’s owner Teresa Beenblossom, is working to get a therapy dog at WHS as a project for student council. Riley has been working on the idea of getting a dog since last year.

“I brought my dog, Miami, to school a couple of Fridays ago,” Riley said. “He is not a trained therapy dog. We wanted to see how the students would react to a dog at school and their thoughts on getting a therapy dog.”

Riley showed the board a video of the pet interacting with WHS students. She beamed proudly as the video showed Miami playing with a student who regularly does not speak due to social anxiety issues. The students answered many of Riley’s questions with Miami’s interaction.

Students interviewed on the video described Miami as having a calming effect on their classes.

“I think there are lots of benefits to having a therapy dog,” Beenblossom told the board. “Classes, I feel, would be a lot more efficient. At Lincoln I have seen so many people so happy to come to school to see Coral.”

Riley also said having a dog can provide a reward for students who do good. Teachers can allow an amount of time with the dog for good work.

The plan, Riley said, would be she would apply for a therapy dog. The class would pay for the dog through fundraising and Riley would be the handler. She has also talked with other teachers in the other schools who have expressed interest in being handlers.

The board approved the request. Riley and Beenblossom said they would begin working on fundraising for the dog.