Blue is a 4-year-old Labrador retriever who has been coming to work since he was 8 weeks old. He is a trained and certified facility therapy dog who serves the students and staff at Breckenridge Middle/High School. He is based in Mrs. Willman’s room (his owner and handler) but is utilized by the entire school. The counselors and interventionalists use him when they have students who need regulation. The teachers use Blue as a motivational tool for struggling students. He goes on walks several times a day with staff or students. He spends a large portion of his day in the special need classrooms as well. Research shows that animal-assisted therapy can:
• Lower people’s blood pressure and stress levels.
• Increase levels of dopamine and serotonin.
• Improve physical well-being.
• Decrease anxiety.
• Dramatically increase positive mood.
• Ease social isolation and help children learn social skills.
• Help young readers gain confidence.
Allison Smith, an 11th grade student at Breckenridge, was diagnosed with epilepsy in January 2021, with seizures starting in November 2019. Allison has greatly benefitted from Blue’s presence every day at her school. They first connected during Allison’s 8th grade science class. “Practically every morning of my 8th grade year consisted of snuggles and cuddles from Blue. Most kids were completely enraptured by this dog and his cute little harness, spending any spare time in Mrs. Willman’s classroom just hanging around him, whether brushing out his fur, playing with toys, or simply watching him nap. In my junior year, I utilized Blue’s helpfulness toward my own mental wellness”, says Allison. In March 2022, Blue had his first seizure. “I’m set to graduate this May, whereas Blue will stick around the school for a while longer. We’re both doing well at the moment; I recently passed my year-and-a-half mark for being seizure-free, while Blue is still getting tested but hasn’t had a seizure in 8 months”, Allison exclaims!
If your school community would like to follow the adventures of Blue the Therapy dog, please follow and check-in with him on Facebook here (https://www.facebook.com/people/The-Adventures-of-Blue-the-Breckenridge-School-Doggo/100053004263079/). We look forward to more fun adventures to come with Blue!