Therapy dog helps students at Junction City elementary school

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (KSNT) — A therapy dog is proving to be a calming presence at a Junction City elementary school.

“Working with the kids here I knew they needed a dog,” said Washington Elementary third grade teacher DeLaine Burch.

So, Burch got permission to bring her dog Buddy to school, but Buddy is more than a class pet.

Buddy is the district’s first specially trained therapy dog. Burch said the dog has been helpful in calming disruptive students.

Burch said Buddy helped calm a student who was throwing a temper tantrum.

“Within 30 seconds (the student) was laying down with the dog and petting him and he was under control,” said Burch. “So now, we use Buddy as a reward for him.”

It’s a labor of love for the dog who was trained by prisoners to become a therapy dog through a Concordia organization called “CARES.”

“(Buddy) gets super excited when he sees the kids,” Burch said. “I think the weekends are kind of long for him because there are not any little kids around.”

During the week, Buddy listens to kids read and roams the classroom as students work.

It’s a job that Buddy seems to like. He’s already changing the enviornment at Washington Elementary.

“Sometimes kids just need a dog to pet because dogs just make everyone happy,” said Burch.

Buddy is learning things at school, too. Burch said as Buddy gets older he’ll be able to better sense when students are feeling anxious and will be better able to calm them.

Burch says others in the district have expressed interest in getting a therapy dog for their classrooms.

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