Dog De-Stressing at Oldfield Middle School

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Dog De-Stressing at Oldfield Middle School  thumbnail119665
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Dog De-Stressing at Oldfield Middle School  thumbnail119667
Dog De-Stressing at Oldfield Middle School  thumbnail119668
Dog De-Stressing at Oldfield Middle School  thumbnail119669
Dog De-Stressing at Oldfield Middle School  thumbnail119670
During this past school year, the guidance department at Oldfield Middle School has been bringing in furry friends to interact with students. Now that finals are around the corner, two trained therapy dogs have been helping de-stress children and afford them a “brain break” during the day. According to recent studies done by universities across the country, having the incentive of a visiting dog increases motivation and improves student behavior. Additionally, having a dog present helps students cope with lessons covering heavy topics such as wars and historical tragedies, and also aids student growth in Social and Emotional learning (SEL), which is now incorporated into New York State’s mandated curriculum.

One of the school’s regular visitors, a beagle named Lala, belongs to guidance counselor Dahlia Roemer, while the other, a cockapoo named Morris, belong to OMS eighth-grader Orla—both of which have been trained and certified by the organization “Pet Partners, and have brought many smiles to the students of Oldfield Middle.

Along with Ms. Roemer, members of the student group “Tornadoes Listening and Caring” (TLC) have shared responsibilities of visiting classrooms with the therapy dog as well. This group of students were chosen by their peers and specially trained by the guidance staff to help students with everyday problems and to know when to get the help of an adult.

“Having the chance to pet a dog helps get your mind off of the things worrying you,” said Nahrahel, a TLC member, “and it brings a different, positive kind of energy into the classroom.”

In addition, students can go directly to the guidance office if they are in need of a counselor and the comfort of a therapy dog. Students have reported feeling more at ease while sharing difficult aspects of their lives while petting a dog.

“I’m so glad she’s here,” Will, a seventh-grader, exclaimed while petting Lala in Ms. Rohmer’s office. “She’s definitely doing her job, I’ll tell you that much—I feel better already.”