Thursday, August 19, 2010

Black Labrador Retriever Therapy Dog for Conway MO Schools

This news just in from KY# television news in Springfield, MO.
There's a new student in the Conway School district. She's about 13 months old and carries quite a bark. School is going to be a little different this year at Conway. It will be a common sight to see a black lab roaming down the hallways and invading the classrooms.

Braxton is a therapy dog. She's been through weeks of training to prepare for Conway. The last of it spent with Guidance Counselors Jamie Stokes and Stacie Vestal.  "Basically we learned all the commands that the dog already learned," said Vestal.  "I've already had 5 emails and 4 teachers come in my classroom saying, 'hey I think this would be a great way we can use Braxton,'" said Stokes.

Braxton isn't just around to play fetch, although she likes doing it quite a bit. She is there to help kids.  "There's 3 different types of students that Braxton's really going to be able to help," Stokes said, "and one of them are students that have autism."  Autistic children often get overstimulated. Braxton will be there to help calm the child down and give them unconditional love.

Braxton also helps children with emotional issues.  "We've got a couple of kids that deal with anger a little bit and its hard to relate to their peers and even sometimes to teachers," Stokes said.  "My 5 year old started crying," Vestal said, "Braxton literally came over from across the room and just licked her tears away. It was just precious."

The black lab will also help students who have trouble reading.  "A lot of times when kids who struggle with reading, go slow or sometimes mess up," Stokes said, "they feel a lot of judgment. Braxton is going to be able to give them that unconditional...there's no judgment."

They were lucky to get Braxton so quickly. They applied for her in January and normally the waiting period is 12 to 18 months.  "We were very fortunate that Braxton came along and she fit our application perfect," Vestal said.  Now Braxton has a place to call home. He has a place with loving kids, loving parents, and plenty of attention.

The dog is coming at no cost to the district. It is completely being funded by which is a website completely dedicated to help fund school projects around the country. Facebook donated $2,000 to help get it going and individual donors donated in the other $500.

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