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South Lyon, MI: School service dog for 'so many students with anxiety/depression'

Mar 6, 2020, South Lyon, MI, Hometown Life: A happy tail: Olive the black lab will be first dog owned by South Lyon Schools Students in South Lyon are getting a furry classmate. Olive, a 7-month-old black Labrador, is expected to join students at South Lyon East High School this fall, an unconventional addition to enhance the educational environment. The district will own the dog, its first, in a pilot program which they hope models the success of a program in Brighton…. “I believe we have so many students that deal with anxiety and depression and we’re excited to offer support that is not as conventional,” Katey White, a guidance counselor at South Lyon East, said. “For some students, I see this as a tool to help them get through the door every morning. Just having an animal to touch and is soothing can help a mood. Dogs don’t judge you, they don’t have opinions, and they just give you unconditional love.” White first brought the idea for a therapy dog for South Lyon to East Principal Karen Fisher after reading and researching about the dogs owned by the Brighton school district. The dogs are not actually “therapy” dogs, but even more specialized and properly known as social-emotional learning dogs. Brighton was the first district in Michigan to put such dogs in every one of its school buildings. The trend is catching on. While many schools, including Novi, Huron Valley and Birmingham, bring in therapy dogs for visits with children, a district that owns its own dog can expect it to be present all school day, wherever in the building it may be needed, as well as available for school events like parades or football games. Olive, who comes with a price tag of $10,000 after training is completed, is paid for not from the school budget, but by donations… “I think this will make a difference in a student wanting to go to school and being more comfortable at school,” she said. “When you bring a dog into school, the whole dynamic changes, the atmosphere changes, kids are calmer and more excited… A dog will be putting a lot of students at ease… I’m really hoping therapy dogs make it easier for students to talk to their counselors.”… “I think it would be amazing to put a dog in every building, it just depends on their needs,” Fisher said. “Other buildings (staff) have said, ‘If you get this approved, we want to be next.’”… Assistant Superintendent Ben Kirby said there has certainly been successful


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