Therapy dogs go back to school with students

Posted at 2:51 PM, Aug 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-25 19:25:59-04

A new school year underway means getting to know new classmates.

If you look closely, you’d think it would be breaking the rules to bring a pet to class. 

But halo, the rescued mutt is much more than a class pet. 

In the adapted curriculum class, a student who is disruptive becomes still as halo sits calmly by her.

Since 2000, Adams Elementary School has had a therapy dog.

Halo is the third dog Special E.D. teacher Mako Jacobs has adopted, trained, and brought to help through a national nonprofit called love on a leash.

From the calming effect, to learning skills, Halo is growing Adams students. 

"Just the simple thing of putting on a leash on is fine motor, throwing a ball when you’re playing at recess is gross motor. We're trying to incorporate into different therapies that we have," Jacobs said. 

Halo is one of a few dogs in the Omaha public school district. Gretna, Millard, Ralston, Papio, La Vista, even Glenwood, Iowa also has school districts with therapy dogs.

The program has a strong language base. Kids from all classes like Elijah Cartwright get chances to read with the dog.

"Somebody is listening to them. Often times many kids go home and life is so busy now and especially for my students in special education," Jacobs added.

"There might be other students around, or mom might be working a couple of jobs, so to have somebody or somebody listen to you and follows your direction give you a lot of empowerment."

The dogs stay in their crate during parts of the day for safety.     

Halo went through at least three different training courses and have 400 hours of therapy before he could become a classroom dog.