Dogs in LPS teaching students about emotional health and bringing smiles
School has gone to the dogs!
Well sort of.
Meet Shug, he's one of Randolph Elementary's two therapy dogs and one of over forty throughout Lincoln Public Schools.
Just like students, Shug comes to school every day, but instead of learning, he is the one teaching students.
"You pet him and he'll give you the emotion stuff, like he'll help you feel better," said Randolph third grader Dreta Foya.
Shug, and other dogs across LPS, are helping teach students to regulate their emotions.
In times of sadness or anger when emotions are high, Shug is brought in to help de–escalate a situation and lend a listening ear...or paw.
"Often times they don't want to listen to adults or listen to logic that adults are trying to use with them, but there isn't anyone in the school that isn't going to listen to Shug," said Randolph school counselor Susie Mahoney.
For many students Shug offers a calming presence and source of comfort, but it took a lot of work for him to become a school dog.
Shug and his handler Mahoney, who's also the school counselor, had to go through extensive training and he had to pass several tests to qualify as a school therapy dog.
While Shug is helping teach kids about their emotions, he's also teaching them about responsible pet ownership.
I pick up his toys and then I put water in his bowl and then I might give him a treat and then I leave, but most importantly, he's teaching kids about unconditional love.
And providing a few laughs along the way.
"He'll pass gas in the middle of a parent meeting out their fluffy tail in peoples faces. Sometimes kids just need a reason to laugh and be happy and he can certainly have that," said Mahoney.