It’s the end of the first semester and grades are in the books for Upper School students. The surge in COVID is at an all-time high. And, baby, it's cold outside! What better way to combat the pressure students may be experiencing than cuddling up to a furry friend? Thanks to sophomores Olivia Hayes, Dora Ward, and Sophie Piatkowski '24 and their CEL project, Upper School students enjoyed special visitors during lunch this week.
Spreading smiles and joy—Roxy, Jack, and Sophie offered plenty of opportunities for hugs and pats as students clustered in groups around each dog. Sophie, a golden lab, was trained as a therapy dog in France before coming to the U.S. She follows commands in both French and English. Roxy, a retired greyhound racer, seemed to be enjoying the attention of crowds again. Roxy is also trained as a crisis therapy dog and travels around the country to help out after a traumatic event. Jack, a poodle-lab mix, is a retired farm dog and enjoying his more leisurely life getting petted.
The visit was made possible through a partnership with Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Their certified pooches are shown to bring wonderful benefits to people of all ages, including taking a person's mind off personal problems, lowering stress, and bringing joy and laughter, even if for a short time. The project designers note that “Studies show that around 45% of students are stressed "all the time" and even have the same anxiety levels as found in psychiatric wards during the 1950s. As students we understand this firsthand and want to improve support for our fellow classmates and teachers.”
The team would like to plan regular dog visits before stressful times during the year as well as to help finance emotional support dog visits to other schools.