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Elementary school hires a comfort dog for students and staff

Posted: 5:57 AM, Oct 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-07 05:57:55-04

GRANDVILLE, Mich. — South Elementary School in Grandville is welcoming a brand new addition to the staff.

Her name is CC and she is a 2-year-old golden retriever lab mix.

Her official job title is comfort dog, commonly mistaken for a therapy dog, but CC is different.

"Therapy dogs are usually used for specific needs for students who are working on specific goals or objectives," said South Elementary school principal, Darla England. "CC will be able to meet the needs of all of our staff and students."

South Elementary has never had a comfort dog before. So, you have to wonder, why now?

"Really it all started with us wanting to make sure that we were addressing the needs of the whole student. Still striving for academic excellence but also looking at the social and emotional needs," said England. "We have kiddos coming to school who are anxious and stressed. And what better way than with a dog?"

England says many kids come to school stressed out, therefore they aren't able to focus on their academics. She wants her students to feel school is a space to forget about any life stresses and focus on being at school.

"CC is going to be utilized by every single student in the building. Not just students that have special needs and not just students who need help with social emotional learning. She can be a reward for students who want to take a break and read with her, or want to show her what they’ve done in class," said England. "She can be in a classroom while they’re taking a test to just even sit and lay down and help just calm the whole classroom."

By having a comfort dog in the school, England anticipates the students' grades, attendance, behavior and overall well-being to improve.

"Then we’re going to collect data and see what benefits she’s providing to South, and how we can use her even further," said England. "In all honesty, she is a member of our South family, and that’s how we view her."

When CC is not working at the school, she will go home with a South Elementary School teacher and be a pet to her family.

CC is paid for completely through fundraising and local sponsors and did not effect the school budget.