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
Once everything is positioned to his liking – he gets comfy, strikes a pose, and waits for the bell to ring…
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…
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…
Harley of course was Harley – he made every single human feel like they were the most important person in his life…
We were there for close to two hours. the students were like Bebe’s kids – they just kept multiplying…
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…
Abbey the other Therapy dog had her own fan club as well. This was her second time doing Therapy work and she was outstanding…
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…
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…
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!