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Meet Murphy the dog. He helps kids stay calm

Posted at 4:12 PM, Dec 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-02 17:12:12-05

He's gone from helping in the state penitentiary in Lincoln to helping kids slowly realize their full potential in Omaha - and he does it with four legs. 

Murphy the Dog is a 3-year-old Yellow Labrador Retriever with a unique classroom assignment.

“He’s special. He makes everyone happy,” said one second grader at Fontenelle Elementary.

Clad in a red-knit sweater to keep warm, his demeanor is cool, calm and collected.

Murphy is a rescue dog, trained to do therapy. He started his work at the state penitentiary and now walks the halls and visits the classrooms of Fontenelle.

He keeps students calm and helps them learn to read out loud. 

“Anytime a kid can read, especially out loud, it's going to help their fluency, their compression and with him just sitting there, the kids love it, they're reading more,” said Principal Eric Nelson.

Murphy’s owner, Fontenelle second grade teacher Teresa Pensick, began bringing him to class this school year, during the week.

“I got him through a program, Second Hand Pups,” she said.

But the Lab knows first-hand about lending a listening ear, when it’s needed most.

“There are studies that they can release a hormone, Oxytocin, and it can relieve stress and relieve blood pressure, “ Pensick said.

And for Pensick’s class and the Fontenelle family, their excitement over Murphy, helps them succeed in class.

“Every time he calms someone down, they get back to class, you can't ask for anything more,” Nelson concluded.

The Partnership For Kids program paid for Murphy's classroom training.