Therapy Dog

Professional Therapy Dog introduced at Oak Grove
Posted on 09/11/2018
Professional Therapy Dog introduced at Oak Grove

A 150-pound Great Dane standing 3 feet tall made an equally big impression on Oak Grove students last week. 

Bailey, a 4-year-old professional therapy dog, joined the elementary school staff as a package deal with handler Holly Shupe, a resource teacher hired this school year by way of Arizona. 

Shupe plans to bring the dog around to classrooms on a weekly basis and allow students to read to him, for example, in small group settings. A kennel has been set up in her classroom next to the library. 

“He’s not going to tell you [that] you did wrong. This isn’t the job of correcting children,” Shupe explained. “Sometimes they just need to read out loud.” 

Students experiencing behavioral or emotional difficulties have shown a dramatic increase in engagement when a therapy dog is present, according to Shupe’s research. 

Bailey has received multiple basic obedience training classes and is registered through the Therapy Animal Program of Pet Partners, a national volunteer organization. In addition to spending time with students, Shupe hopes to take the Great Dane to visit patients of the John J. Pershing VA Medical Center. 

Poplar Bluff Schools has two other therapy dogs – Airial, a 9-year-old Labrador at Lake Road and Creggan, an 8-year-old Irish setter at Junior High, as part of the counseling department. 

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Cutline: Students in Nikki Buffington’s second grade class take turns petting Bailey.

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