GOING TO HIGH SCHOOL

By Monday, April 27, 2015 42 , Permalink

As I read the email a second time, I just knew this was a mistake. Sure, Harley’s been a therapy dog for almost a year now.  He’s even been to a few schools to participate in their reading programs. But this was going to be a first. Harley was going to High School.

I reached out to the school anxious for answers. Wanted to have this mystery solved:

  • Was this a legitimate request?
  • Did they really want a Therapy Dog in the High School?
  • What did they want him to do?

Turns out the answer was more fascinating than I could have imagined.

It was all about the SOL’s (Standard of Learning tests)

The Standards of Learning (SOL) for Virginia Public Schools is to establish minimum expectations for what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade or course in various subjects.

Tests in (reading, writing, mathematics, science and history/social science) measure the success of students meeting the Board of Education’s expectations for learning and achievement.

Apparently – these tests have the potential to create a great deal of stress for students of all ages, so this particular school decided to incorporate a “Stress Less Week” prior to taking their exams.

Having Harley and another dog named Abbey around for 2.5 hours was part of “Stress Less Tuesday.”

Of course we happily accepted the invitation 🙂

We were asked to arrive by 10:15am.

The objective? Hang out by the cafeteria door.

During each lunch period, students would come outside before or after their meal to meet and pet the dogs.

Easy enough –

We walked on campus a few minutes early to set up his work station. #seriousbusiness

Harley is all about his creature comforts when he goes to work… #highmaintenance

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Once everything is positioned to his liking – he gets comfy, strikes a pose, and waits for the bell to ring…

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I must say, I was a little curious and wondered just how interested teenagers could/would be at the site of a doodle outside their cafeteria door.

They were very excited…

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Many of them had pets of their own at home and quite a few did not. I was surprised at the sheer volume that came out and stuck around…

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Harley of course was Harley – he made every single human feel like they were the most important person in his life…

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We were there for close to two hours. the students were like Bebe’s kids – they just kept multiplying…

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As the students sat and fussed over him, I could hear them talking about how this would be so cool to have dogs around all the time. Even some of the facility echoed the same sentiments…

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Abbey the other Therapy dog had her own fan club as well. This was her second time doing Therapy work and she was outstanding…

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If you’re wondering how Harley handled hours of hands rubbing and petting him – I can tell you it was tough but he endured #sarcasm Harley was ecstatic to have time away from the energizer doodle (aka Jax) that he took full advantage of every touch…

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It will be a while before I forget all those smiling faces and happy voices that I saw coming out of that cafeteria door. They were genuinely happy to see us, excited to greet Harley and extremely polite as they included me in their conversations.

I couldn’t have imagined High School students and Therapy Dogs together like this, but I am oh so glad I was able to see it. One student said it all as she stroked Harley’s back:

He’s so soft, I can feel the stress leaving my body through my fingers…

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To the faculty and students of South County High School – thanks doodles for allowing Harley to come and help with “Stress-less Week

Best of luck to everyone (teachers too!) during your SOL’s

ONE MORE THING…

Don’t forget to enter the PetPrints 3D Mothers Day Contest!

I am joining the Monday Mischief blog hop brought to you by Alfie’s BlogSnoopy’s Dog BlogMy Brown Newfies. The Hop that wraps up the weekend.

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42 Comments
  • Caren Gittleman
    April 27, 2015

    Ohhh this just totally warmed my heart!!! Harley got so much and such well-deserved lovin’ that day and so did the students!

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      It was a great day for both the students and Harley Caren. He loved all the attention and the students were pleasantly surprised to see the dogs out there during their lunch period.

  • DashLilly
    April 27, 2015

    Harley looks pretty comfortable and stress free as well!! Good job Doodle Mom. Clever how the school had you stay outside … I was wondering about how the school would handle kids with allergies or are afraid of dogs — staying outside meant it was kids who opted to come see you guys. Lucky kids!! I bet quite a few fell in love with Harley. Hooray!!

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      What made it PAWfect Deirdre was that fact that it was a beautiful day weather wise. I’m not sure what the contingency plan would have been because of the allergy and fear factors. Thank the Doodle we didn’t have to find out 🙂

  • Tonya
    April 27, 2015

    Being that I am both a graduate and employee of Fairfax County Schools, I think this is great. Keep up the great work C B and Harley.

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      Thanks Ton-Ton – It seemed to go better than expected and there was chatter about bringing him back again. Paws crossed.

  • Talent Hounds
    April 27, 2015

    I’m so happy to hear this, that’s wonderful! Harley looks so comfortable and happy.

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      He was Talent Hounds – he was so happy to have a few hours of attention AND the added bonus? No puppy 🙂

  • Earl Lover
    April 27, 2015

    That looks like such a cool opportunity to meet new human pals!!

    sumskersandearlskers13.blogspot.com

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      It was Earl, it was so much fun just being around so much happiness.

  • Rachele Baker, DVM
    April 27, 2015

    What an awesome experience for you, Harley, and the students! Happy smiles all around!

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      It was PAWsome Rachele. The students were genuinely happy to see him, and he soaked up all the doodle love the entire time. Hilarious little rascal 🙂

  • Christine & Riley
    April 27, 2015

    Ohh… he is a TDI dog! I can recognize that bandana from anywhere! Our old dog Kyra (RIP) was a TDI girl too! Harley sure looks like he is having a great time! It’s so awesome to be able to give back to kids like this.

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      He is a TDI dog! You go Christine! I’m loving all the assignments we’ve been given. The HS was so much fun, I hope they call again. We’d love to return.

  • Emma
    April 27, 2015

    Just make sure you don’t accidentally get sent off to college!

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      HA! That’s a good one Emma, but you know – if a college called we would no doubt go! Have to buy a t-shirt to take a photo in though!

  • Barbara Rivers
    April 27, 2015

    How very cool indeed!! I would have loved having a Therapy pup come to my High School ~ I would have taken full advantage of being able to love on and pet such a sweet pup as your Harley.

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      Thanks Barbara – apparently it was a huge hit with the administration. They are already talking about creating another event so we can come back! Yea!!!!

  • Susan and the gang from Life with Dogs and Cats
    April 27, 2015

    What a wondoodleful time that was. You can tell everyone had a great time. Yay Harley!
    –Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      Wonderful indeed Susan – a good time was had by all 🙂

  • Monika & Sam
    April 27, 2015

    How pawsome is that?! Proud moment for you guys and no doubt an instant de-stresser for the kids! I’m sure it helped with their scores as well. When I’ve taken Sam to the hospital, being in a room with a patient has the ability to dramatically reduced their blood pressure. Way to go! 🙂

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      I loved watching the smiles on the students faces, especially the football and basketball players. They were so funny to watch hug and rub all over him and want to take selfies. Too cute 🙂

  • LeeAnna Paylor
    April 27, 2015

    Cole can’t believe Harley liked all those kids all at once!! Harley…GOOD BOY!
    The whole concept is BRIlliant! I worked in a school setting with special needs kids and they loved my lab’s visits but the administration didn’t get it. Often while petting her they would talk to me, really openly. The stuffed blanket is awesome, I want one for Cole! LeeAnna

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      Harley does remarkably well around crowds LeeAnna. On two occasions he’s given me indicators that he wasn’t comfortable and we left immediately. Both times there were loud noises (firecrackers and such) Never around humans or dogs though. The blanket and bed are only used for therapy work. The bed was donated by Olde Towne Pet Resort when Harley was certified (congratulatory gift) this way he knows when he sees it – what my expectations are.

  • Cinnamon
    April 27, 2015

    What a positive message that you have taught all of us.
    Dogs bring so much into our lives each day.
    xo Cinnamon and Linda

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      Thanks Linda – But all kudos go to the school and of course Harley. He has and continues to teach me so much everyday. He is a very special creature – quirky at times yes, but special none the less. Thanks for stopping by, please come again soon.

  • Jan K
    April 27, 2015

    What a wonderful idea someone had to do that, and look how well it turned out! I’d say that was a WIN WIN for everyone involved! I think it’s so great that you do this with Harley….he sure seems like a natural at it. I love your little work station set up too!

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      JanK – very early on I knew Harley was the type of dog I would have to share at every possible opportunity. He is truly a gift – one that is meant to be experienced by as many people as possible. We had a great time, and you’re right – this was a really great idea 🙂

  • Jackie Bouchard
    April 27, 2015

    Wow, that is really cool. I have a friend who takes her dog to college campuses but didn’t realize high schools are doing this now too. We certainly can have stress at any age, huh?! And dog’s are a big help with that! Good job, you two!

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      Jackie I was as shocked as you! We’re used to going to the elementary schools, so this was truly a new adventure. I am pleased to say the students really found it a pleasant surprise and they enjoyed spending 10-15 minutes outside with the dogs. We had a great time too!

  • Tenacious Little Terrier
    April 27, 2015

    How awesome! Good job, Harley. Mr. N went to a non-profit fair last week, representing the therapy organization. He hung out on a table and high fived people and did tricks for about an hour and loved it.

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      I would have loved to have seen that. Mr. N. is a crowd pleaser 🙂

  • Dory's Backyard
    April 27, 2015

    That last smiley says it all Harley, good work!!!
    Smileys!
    Dory, Jakey, Arty and Bilbo

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      It certainly does Dory – makes my heart smile!

  • MyDogLikes
    April 27, 2015

    This looks like pure torture! Ha! Was this possibly your best day ever? Because it would for sure be mine!

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      Oh – it was painful like you wouldn’t believe LOL Such great memories – they will last a lifetime.

  • meowmeowmans
    April 27, 2015

    Oh my gosh, that’s so wonderful! Harley, we can see that those students were really happy to interact with you. And you look like YOU had fun, too. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by our blog, and for your nice comment!

    Hugs!

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      Truth be told, Harley probably had more fun than the students did! It was a wonderful way to spend our day! Take care and have a great rest of the week!

  • Kari
    April 27, 2015

    What a great service you offer. And how cool is your bed??

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 27, 2015

      Thanks Kari – Making the decision to share Harley as a Therapy Dog was the right one! He is such a blessing to so many. The bed is cool – it was a gift from one of his sponsors when he became certified. Thanks so much for stopping by 🙂 Have a great week

  • Sand Spring Chesapeakes
    April 27, 2015

    what a great stress reliever, you are doing such a great job

    • Cathy Bennett
      April 29, 2015

      Thanks JoAnn – Harley’s body language indicates he’s having as much fun as the students, so we’ll keep answering the call 🙂

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