WOLF LAKE — For the past few months, Central Noble Primary School Principal Robby Morgan has been researching the merits of having a therapy dog at the school.
He brought the idea to the Central Noble Board of Education’s attention at the monthly meeting in April, and they gave him the go ahead to look into it.
That idea came to fruition when Morgan heard about a litter of goldendoodle puppies that were available.
“We ended up talking with some people about different breeds that they used, and why they thought one breed was better than another,” Morgan said. “The general consensus was that some sort of labradoodle or goldendoodle mix was the way to go.”
Morgan learned that the speech therapist at West Noble Primary School, Elizabeth Cabello, had a litter of puppies that were goldendoodles. He said that she brought the dogs to the school to see how they did.
“We had them walk in the gym on the slippery surface, then had them walk down the hallway and close the door behind them to see how they reacted,” Morgan said. “We also had them around a bunch of people to see how they did.”
He chose a puppy named Roxy. She is 75% poodle and 25% golden retriever and will be living with Jason Koontz, the school resource officer at Central Noble Primary, and his family. Once she gets her training and certifications, she will be accompanying Koontz to school one or two days a week at the beginning of the school year. After Roxy gets used to being in the school, she will be there with Koontz every day.
Her training will take place in Tennessee and last a couple of weeks. Once she passes her classes, she will be able to become a certified therapy dog.
Morgan is so thankful to have found a dog so quickly.
“We’re excited because all of the research that we know that goes along with it,” Morgan said. “It increases student attendance, decreases bad student behaviors. It also helps students who are in crisis or having a hard time with either a situation at school or situations outside of school.”
He also said there is research that says therapy dogs can increase reading scores, especially with comprehension. Students will sometimes read to the dogs. It helps to give them confidence, according to Morgan.
Koontz, a self-proclaimed pet-lover, is happy to have Roxy by his side.
“I’m a pet lover so I’m excited,” Koontz said. “The puppy stage is a little rough right now trying to get her potty trained, but knowing what it is going to do for the kids makes it well worth it. My family and I are more than happy to house her and give her the attention she needs at home to get her to the point where she is going to be ready for school.”
He plans on taking her out into the community to help prepare her for next school year. His daughter plays softball, and he said that he will bring Roxy to the games so she can meet some of the students over the summer.
Roxy is even bringing the morale with the teachers up as well.
“She’s super loveable,” Morgan said. “We have PBL (project-based learning) training with the teachers. We brought her in. He’s been bringing her in the school in the different places that he’ll be so she can get assimilated. It was amazing to see the mood of the room of the teachers. She just kind of lightened the mood, and everyone became super happy.”
He’s hoping the students catch that same energy next school year.