As some of you have heard, Jackson St. School will get a “school dog” that is trained as a “therapy” dog! I have hesitated to announce this only because we do not have a definite date for its arrival and waiting is the hardest part, as Tom Petty sings. However since some people know about it, I want to share the facts with you, staying away from “fake news”. I will announce this at our assembly next week – as a “Valentine” from me to our school.
There is quite a bit of research on the effectiveness of therapy animals in general, and dogs specifically. In the past, Leeds and Bridge St. had therapy dogs. Please let me know if you’d like links to this. Needless to say there is strict criteria for such dogs that includes the dog’s disposition, the training, the shedding (or lack of it) and therefore the non-allergenicness of it, as well as the preparation for our students and families. I know that there are students and families who have a range of feelings about dogs – from loving them to being very uncomfortable and afraid of them. Please believe me when I say that NO STUDENT will be asked to interact, pet, snuggle or even be in the same room as the dog if the student does not want to. Again, a big piece of this is preparation for our students and families about what it will mean to have a dog here at JSS. More on that as it gets closer to the dog’s arrival. GREAT thanks to our amazing PTO for sponsoring half of the cost of the training of the dog, which includes training the “humans” who will oversee the dog’s activities at JSS. My husband, Tom Marantz and I are purchasing the dog and it will live, when not at work at JSS, at our house. We will be among the humans who will be trained. I am not betraying anything when I say that I will retire one day (I’m NOT announcing anything right now!). When I am no longer the principal, the dog will still be the JSS therapy dog – per an understanding that I have with our superintendent, John Provost, who will communicate this condition with the new JSS principal. My husband and I plan to stay in Northampton for the foreseeable future and Tom has agreed, when I am no longer at the helm, to bring the dog to school
per its work schedule.
There are many details to share and many unknowns right now – in particular, we don’t know exactly WHEN the dog will arrive.
A litter of puppies has just been born and the trainer is making decisions about whether our school dog is in this litter. It will be a labradoodle – that we know.
I will share more in the next few newsletters. Again, my thanks to the PTO as well as the JSS staff and faculty for their enthusiastic response to having a school dog!