The Courier » Therapy dog finds new home

GLENWOOD MIDDLE School sixth-grader Cole Barnes gets a “high five” from Harrison, the school’s new therapy dog. Looking on is Glenwood Principal Janice Panuto. Harrison, a golden retriever, joined the Glenwood staff in April. (Photo by Randy Roberts)

By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
Staff Writer
Harrison is a bow tie-wearing, 2-year-old golden retriever, but his role at Glenwood Middle School isn’t simply to be cute.
“He knows that this is his place of work,” Principal Janice Panuto said.
Harrison is a therapy dog, and his job description includes providing emotional support, assisting school counselors working with students, and promoting reading with the “Harrison’s Tales” program.
He was introduced to students during an assembly in April, and is still easing into his work.
“We were in testing over the last couple weeks and we had some kids that had anxiety and Harrison helped with that,” Panuto said.
When he’s not in a classroom, he can be found in Panuto’s office, or with guidance counselors Megan Kirian or Bethany Barnhart. All three are trained as handlers.
Students come by their offices and ask to pet Harrison, or they’ll do what Panuto calls a “flyby petting” — running a hand along Harrison’s back as they walk past him.
“The kids light up when they see him. But so does Harrison,” Barnhart said.
Some of the students were already familiar with the idea of a dog in school. Hayden, a black Labrador, retired at the end of last school year and did similar work.
After he retired, Glenwood went on a waiting list, and Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence placed Harrison with the school this spring.
Harrison lived with two foster families and was exposed to a variety of people and environments as part of his training through ADAI. When he was placed with Glenwood, ADAI trained Panuto, with whom Harrison now lives, and the guidance counselors. Teachers will also be trained.
The Glenwood PTO covered a $2,000 fee for training and equipment.
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